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Denver school board OKs not using student data for teacher evaluations

The Denver Public Schools board voted Thursday to approve the district’s plan to not use students’ results on state or local tests as a part of teacher evaluations this year.

But principals will be able to consider available information about students’ growth compared to academic peers when making decisions about teachers whose scores place them on a cusp between ratings.

By state law, school districts are required to use measures of student growth, a calculation based on scores on state or local tests, as 50 percent of teachers’ evaluations. The other half is based on measures of professional practice, which include ratings from observations by supervisors and student surveys.

But since the state is using a new standardized test this year, local school districts are permitted to use growth as a smaller portion of evaluations or not at all.

Board member Arturo Jimenez was the sole vote against approving the resolution. He said LEAP, the district’s teacher evaluation and performance management system, is more accurate than previous evaluation systems but is still a subjective measure of teachers’ performance.

Check out our Board Tracker for a full list of all Denver Public Schools board votes.

The board also approved a slate of personnel decisions that included teacher non-renewals for teachers on probationary status. Denver teachers are on probationary status until they have demonstrated three years of effectiveness under LEAP. (This presentation describes changes to LEAP and district non-renewal policies)

About 5 percent of district teachers, and 10 percent of teachers who are still on probationary status, were not renewed this year, said Denver’s Chief Human Resources Officer Shayne Spalten. That is consistent with past years’ rates, she said.

This year, 2 percent of teachers are not immediately eligible to be rehired and must show three years of success in a different district before reapplying for jobs in Denver. Fewer than 1 percent of teachers are permanently ineligible to be rehired. The remainder of non-renewed teachers are eligible to be rehired immediately in other schools.

More than a dozen teachers appeared before the board to contest their non-renewals. Several contested the district’s policy of requiring some teachers who are non-renewed to wait for three years before reapplying to work in the district, while others made pleas for the board to consider personal or professional circumstances.

Board member Jimenez also voted against the personnel transactions.

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