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Colorado school districts won’t be required to conduct teacher evaluations this year

Many school districts have said they’re still considering their options or waiting on guidance from state education officials

Yearbook teacher Michelle Tillotson, left, and senior Kylinn Wisecup go over some page layouts at the end of class at Custer County School Feb. 13, 2020 in Westcliffe, Colo. (Mike Sweeney, Special to The Colorado Sun)

As Colorado educators grapple with the unprecedented challenge of teaching remotely, Gov. Jared Polis has suspended the requirement that they be evaluated every year.

That doesn’t necessarily mean teacher evaluations are canceled. School districts could still go ahead with them if they want, though the statewide teachers union is urging that they don’t.

Many school districts have said they’re still considering their options or waiting on guidance from state education officials.

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“We really need to know what the state expects from us,” David Bell, the chief human resources officer for Jeffco Public Schools, the state’s second largest district, said earlier Wednesday.

Polis included the change in an amended executive order issued Wednesday that also extends statewide school closures at least through April 30. Most schools in the state have been closed since March 16, and officials say it’s unlikely that in-person classes will resume this school year.

The executive order suspends requirements in state law regarding the “frequency and duration of employment performance evaluations” for teachers, special service providers, principals, and administrators “to enable schools and districts to focus on providing alternative learning opportunities to students.”

Colorado’s controversial educator effectiveness law requires that all teachers be evaluated every year, with the evaluation to be based on a combination of student performance on standardized tests and classroom observations of the teacher. Teachers also need to have a certain number of observations each year, depending on how long they’ve been on the job.

Read more at chalkbeat.org.