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Lawmakers finish with educator ID

The House Tuesday agreed to Senate amendments to House Bill 09-1065, the proposal to create an identifier system for principals and teachers, and repassed the bill 65-0, sending it to Gov. Bill Ritter.

The idea behind the educator identifiers is that they can be used in conjunction with other data, such as individual student performance, to evaluate teacher performance, the effectiveness of teacher training programs and the distribution of high-performing teachers in different kinds of schools.

The bill, developed by an advisory group named the Teacher Quality Commission, originally was proposed as a pilot program in a few districts so the Department of Education could evaluate use of the identifiers. A major goal was to gain data about the “teacher gap” – the problem of low-performing schools being disproportionately served by inexperienced teachers.

But HB 09-1065 gained more importance after announcement of the federal stimulus program, with its emphasis on education reform. Creation of a statewide identifier program is now seen as a way to improve Colorado’s chances for stimulus money.

And the bill set up something of a tussle between the governor’s office, CDE officials and other researchers and the Colorado Education Association over use of the data. Researchers want maximum flexibility to use the data, while teachers’ groups want protections to ensure that teachers aren’t evaluated or disciplined solely on the basis of student test scores.

Negotiations, which also involved the Denver Public Schools, went through several fits and starts, but an amendment approved by the Senate Education Committee two weeks ago has the support of CDE, the governor’s office and CEA and other education groups.

The language allows use of the data for research, contains various protections but doesn’t restrict districts from continuing to use existing data systems and programs in evaluation, assignment and compensation of educators.

CDE would start the program with just a few districts, but the identifier program would be expanded statewide when education officials felt it was ready.

It could be a couple of years or more before it’s operational. Private or federal funds will have to be raised to fund it, and state data systems will need upgrading for the program to work.

In other action Tuesday:

The Senate passed and the House concurred in amendments to House Bill 09-1319, the important dual enrollment legislation.

After much wrangling and GOP hand wringing, the Senate gave preliminary approval to House Bill 09-1366, which would close some loopholes in Colorado capital gains taxes. Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, endlessly touts this as the first in a series of tax bills (the rest to come next year) the legislature can pass without voter approval, thanks to a recent state supreme court decision.

House approval of Senate amendments:

  • House Bill 09-1039, resident tuition eligibility for veterans
  • House Bill 09-1290, increased financial aid for National Guard members
  • House Bill 09-1267, statutory cleanup of provisions affecting religious colleges
  • House Bill 09-1343, creation of a legislative early childhood commission


Passed were HJR 09-1025, the school safety study; SJR 09-044, the study of state fiscal stability; SJR 09-056, the Race to the Top attaboy resolution, and HJR 09-10120, the interim study of school finance, were all approved in the House.

Still hanging for the last day

  • Senate Bill 09-226 – The House accepted the conference committee report on the food allergies bill, but the Senate has yet to act.
  • House Bill 09-295 – Final consideration of the career-tech dual enrollment bills is pending in the House.
  • Higher education financial flexibility – The House gave final approval to Senate Bill 09-290 but has yet to act on its companion, House Bill 09-295
  • Consideration of governor’s footnote veto of Senate Bill 09-259, the 2009-10 long appropriations bill.