Ohio districts don't have to reinvent the wheel

Over the weekend the Dayton Daily News ran an article talking about Senate Bill 5. With a majority of the state's and local news outlets completely consumed by this debate this should come as no surprise. But the article took a slightly different spin on the topic: what happens to districts that don't currently have an alternative system to determine merit pay for their teachers (called for in SB 5)?

Take for example Kettering City Schools, a suburb of Dayton whose labor agreement states that teacher unions and school boards ?agree that negotiations are an effective and efficient method? to decide conditions of employment. ?If SB 5 passes it will force the district to evaluate teachers based on a combination of student growth and classroom observations.? The mere thought of having to do this has local education leaders in a ?frenzy.?? While Kettering City Schools does not currently have an effectiveness-based evaluation system in place it does not mean that they can't work toward creating one.

Skepticism or absence of a current evaluation system is not a valid excuse anymore. Districts and states across the country have made great progress in replacing antiquated evaluation systems with ones that actually measure and reward performance. Before Kettering City Schools throws up the white surrender flag they would do well to look at the way others have crafted and implemented such systems.

State such as Florida, Colorado, Tennessee, and Illinois have all signed pieces of legislation into law that would measure teacher effectiveness and making tenure, hiring and firing contingent on performance. Some school districts around the country such as New Haven, CT and Washington D.C. have also achieved radical overhauls.? In this area the New Haven Unified School District evaluates its teachers on three different components: instructional practice and professional values (which are based on observations by administrators), as well as a student performance component.?

The examples above are proof that evaluations systems based on merit do and can exist. If SB 5 passes, districts around the state- not just Kettering-- will have to begin to think about amending their current employment practices. While this task might seem overwhelming at first, its difficultly isn't an excuse to avoid from tackling it and putting into place a comprehensive evaluation system that enables students to receive a quality education from the most effective teachers, not just the teachers that have been around the longest.

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