The latest version of Senate Bill 229 has some Delaware City School District leaders concerned.
S.B. 229 makes changes to the way districts evaluate teacher performances and the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System requirements, but the House Education Committee has proposed a substitute version that calls for some major changes.
Delaware schools piloted the changes last year and have fully implemented the new requirements.
For example, under the former system, teachers were judged solely on classroom observation and administrative evaluations. The new legislation requires that 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation be based on student growth measures, which includes Ohio Department of Education-approved standardized testing such as the Ohio Achievement Assessment.
The substitute version of S.B. 229, which has not yet been approved, would lower that 50 percent to 35 percent and allow districts to determine how they want to evaluate their teachers using the other 15 percent.
"The actual observation in the classrooms is very similar to the formal evaluation, but the major change is that 50 percent of their grading is based on a number of student growth measures," said Jerry Stewart, the district's director of human and material resources.
Administrative staff, who currently are conducting the teacher evaluations, had to undergo extensive multiday training with the state and a credentialing process to make sure their evaluations were correlated with the standard ratings.
The substitute version of S.B. 229 includes a student survey option as an evaluation component for students in grades 4-12.
"Our administration team had to be trained for these evaluations, on what is important to evaluate and what isn't, and these students, who haven't been trained, are going to be asked to evaluate their teachers," Stewart said.
"Students could have great feedback, don't get me wrong, but it's a real variable."
Another piece of legislation, House Bill 416, would allow districts to add an additional four calamity dates if they have already used their five allotted days.
Districts can also take advantage of "blizzard-bag days," on which students must complete work online at home during a calamity day.
The legislation excuses graduating seniors from having to attend school days after the scheduled graduation ceremony that they would otherwise be required to attend.
Delaware has used its allotted five days in addition to two blizzard-bag days. The district has one more blizzard-bag day allowed.
In the original plan, districts had to provide their plans by Aug. 1 in order to use blizzard bags. However, the legislation allowed districts to implement blizzard-bag days even if they didn't meet that deadline.
"We didn't have ours in by Aug. 1, so this allowed us to use the blizzard-bag days anyways," Stewart said.