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New Teacher Evaluations Might Include Public Charter and Cyber Charter Schools

While the state legislature debates reform of teacher evaluations, an amendment could extend the new assessments to public charter and cyber charter schools. The original bill only covered public schools and would change the way teachers are evaluated by basing new ratings on student performance, as well as traditional teacher observation.

Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon) offered the amendment, which was passed by the House Education Committee and will now move to the full House. Fleck said that it makes sense that any new scoring system for teachers should be used in all public schools, including charters, receiving public dollars.

"I don't think you can pick and choose what you want to do and what you don't want to do when it comes to, you know, something as critical as teacher evaluation overall," Fleck said.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) said that he expects the original language of the legislation to be restored, excluding public charter and cyber charter schools. He said that the argument for the change is that those facilities take public dollars and so they should grade their teachers like public schools do.

"I don't dispute whatsoever the merits of that, I would just … my preference was to see the bill come through the committee process clean, and I think that would have had some merit as a standalone discussion in regards to charter school reform," Aument said.

Fleck recognized that the administration and some lawmakers on the Education Committee hoped his proposal to include charter school teachers would be introduced separately, but he chose to act now.

"There's absolutely no guarantee that any separate bill comes up or has any better chance, so you really have to use the opportunities that you have," Fleck said.

He said that public schools, public charters, and cyber charters should be judged by the same criteria.

"You know, they can still have their differences in the way that they educate, but I think that the ultimate factor is to make sure that we have good, qualified teachers," Fleck said.

The House panel also approved delaying the implementation of the new evaluations by an additional year, to give schools more time to adjust to the new process.