Nicholas Banovetz is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

Yesterday the U.S. Department of Education approved Minnesota’s No Child Left Behind waiver, which will exempt the state from meeting NCLB standards in exchange for enacting meaningful reforms.

In its waiver application Minnesota promised to develop and adopt reliable teacher and principal evaluations in Minnesota that:

  • Are used for continual improvement of instruction;
  • Can meaningfully differentiate performance using at least three performance levels;
  • Use multiple valid measures in determining performance levels, including as a significant factor data on student growth for all students (including English Learners and students with disabilities), and other measures of professional practice (which may be gathered through multiple formats and sources, such as observations based on rigorous teacher performance standards, teacher portfolios, and student and parent surveys);
  • Evaluate teachers and principals on a regular basis;
  • Provide clear, timely, and useful feedback, including feedback that identifies needs and guides professional development; and
  • Are used to inform personnel decisions.

In 2011, Minnesota took important first steps by passing into law teacher and principal evaluation systems. And to fulfill our NCLB waiver commitment, we have the opportunity this year to connect those evaluation models to help schools make important staffing decisions. We need to:

  • Offer Minnesota school districts a robust principal evaluation model to help scout Minnesota’s most valuable principals. As the instructional leaders for their schools, principals are vital in retaining great teachers and supporting their teachers so students have dynamic classroom experiences. A statewide principal evaluation system that is tied to teacher performance and student achievement will ensure every school has a great principal leader on board!
  • Leverage our new statewide teacher evaluation system to retain great teachers in layoff decisions. Right now staffing decisions are based solely on seniority, but the House is currently considering H.F. 1870, which reforms our state’s layoff model so school leaders are able to keep their greatest teachers, whether they’ve been teaching five, 15 or 25 years.



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