Colorado’s teacher evaluation system won’t get a makeover this year

An effort to change Colorado’s teacher evaluation system landed in limbo Thursday as a Senate committee postponed action on the bill beyond the end of the legislative session.

State Sen. Nancy Todd, an Aurora Democrat who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said she hopes the controversial evaluation system gets a review.

Todd moved to lay over Senate Bill 247 until July, after bill sponsor state Sen. Tammy Story, a Conifer Democrat, declined to make the motion. Only three of the five members of the committee, all Democrats, were in the room, but the motion didn’t require a vote.

The path forward remains unclear.

“I don’t think we have any official next steps,” Story said.

Gov. Jared Polis said earlier this week that he may convene people to take a closer look at the evaluation system that places heavy emphasis on student performance in evaluating teachers. Many teachers and school administrators also describe the system as burdensome and overly complicated.

Story’s bill included a commission to review the system enacted in 2010, but it also included a reduction in the student performance portion of the evaluation system. While teachers and their unions supported the measure, others said changes in law aren’t necessary to make the system work better.

“I think our educators had been asking for us to address this issue after nine years of the current system,” Story said after the committee meeting. “They really want to see some systematic changes, and I believe we need to listen to what their requests are and address that.”

Story said she isn’t sure what Polis and his staff have in mind.

“We have had some conversations, and I look forward to continuing that discussion and see what he might be considering,” she said. “There are lots of voices to bring to the table and figure out what is best. But I think our teachers deserve to be listened to.”