Joint Letter: Senate File 453, Delayed implementation of teacher evaluation law

TO: Members, Minnesota Senate
RE: Senate File 453, Delayed implementation of teacher evaluation law

Thank you for your commitment to ensuring all of Minnesota’s students have access to a world-class education.  We’re writing to ask that you not include the provision in SF 453 that delays implementation of the 2011 teacher evaluation law.

The most important in-school factor for ensuring our students’ success is an effective teacher.  In passing the 2011 teacher evaluation law you sought to provide all teachers with regular performance evaluations designed to help them improve instructional practices.

Since the law became effective, Minnesota has received a federal NCLB waiver based in part on implementation of the teacher evaluation law, and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), with advice from a task force consisting primarily of teachers, developed a state default model.  The state’s default model was not intended to be used by all districts, but by those that aren’t able to negotiate a local model.

In fact, while developing the state’s model, a survey of districts was conducted asking about current teacher evaluation policies.  Of the 198 districts that responded, 153 (77%) said they have a formal written teacher evaluation process in place.

Clearly, statewide implementation of the state’s default model is unnecessary.

This is also a reflection of the commitment of teachers to ensuring their professional growth and its connection to improved student performance.  For example a new statewide poll of Minnesota teachers by MinnCAN which found:

  • 89 percent of respondents say that teacher evaluations that align with, and help drive professional development opportunities for teachers  will help advance student learning.

Now is not the time to reverse the momentum for providing teachers regular evaluations to help improve their practice.  Districts and their teachers are either evaluating existing policies, or developing policies, and this is consistent with the timeline submitted by MDE in our NCLB waiver:

  • 2011-12: model development
  • 2012-13: model refinement
  • 2013-14: pilot year
  • 2014-15: full implementation
  • 2015-16: implementation refinement

Through your leadership, and that of school boards and teachers across the state, Minnesota is well positioned to ensure all teachers have regular evaluations that will lead to improved student success.

Thank you, and we look forward to working with you on behalf of our students.

Sincerely,

Lynnell Mickelsen
Co-founder,
Put Kids First Minneapolis

David Olson
President,
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Kathy Saltzman
State Director – MN,
StudentsFirst

Daniel Sellers
Executive Director,
MinnCAN

Chris Stewart
Executive Director,
African American Leadership Forum

Charlie Weaver
Executive Director,
Minnesota Business Partnership