The Dean's List

The best public high schools along the Front Range. Plus: an in-depth look at how the so-called Colorado Paradox has shortchanged our kids—and how we might finally be able to fix it.

September 2013


Under Review

How new teacher evaluations will benefit your children.

Most professionals are familiar with annual performance reviews, so it may come as a surprise that until now, Colorado law only required its public school teachers to be formally evaluated every three years. And due to the tenure system being based solely on experience, these results rarely had teeth: No matter how subpar some instructors might have been, it didn’t necessarily affect their job security.
Soon, mere seniority will no longer guarantee a teacher’s job. After piloting a teacher evaluation program in 27 districts in 2012–13, the Colorado Department of Education is debuting a system centered on six Quality Standards (see “Turning the Tables” on the next page). Half of teachers’ scores will come from meeting the first five standards; the other portion will be based on student growth and learning. Three consecutive years of effective or better ratings will earn teachers nonprobationary status, or tenure; two straight ineffective years will remove that status. “We think every professional deserves high-quality feedback,” says Katy Anthes, the CDE’s executive director for educator effectiveness. “We see it as a support mechanism.”
The CDE expects evaluators (usually principals or assistant principals, who have their own new evaluation system) to consult with teachers about how best to improve. It should be a mostly welcome development for Colorado educators. Says Anthes: “Teachers have said to us, ‘Finally, I know what’s expected of me, and I have a road map for getting there.’ ”