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Pubilc School Teachers Will Be Evaluated With New Scoring Rubric

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The commonwealth's school districts will have a new way of grading its teachers during the next academic year, but educators in state-funded charter schools won't be affected. The overhauled evaluations for traditional public schools use a wider range of scores, and at least half of a teacher's rating will be based in part on student performance.

The change is part of a bill passed during the budget debate in the final moments of the state's fiscal year.

The new scoring rubric is intended to weed out teachers who are not pulling their weight. Senate Education Committee Chairman Jeff Piccola of Dauphin County had indicated a charter reform proposal would make it easier to identify teachers who are subpar.

"I think with all of the accountability stuff that we have in there for charters and disclosure requirements, I think you're going to be able to find the bad apples much more quickly," Piccola said.

Democratic state Representative James Roebuck of Philadelphia said because of that omission, the new teacher evaluations won't be a true reform. "Because we are not demanding that every teacher in the commonwealth in the public school system, which we fund, be accountable at the same level. Understand we are spending public dollars that are not being accounted for," Roebuck said.

Some House members balked at teacher evaluation reform that excluded teachers in publicly funded charter schools. Democratic Representative Mike O'Brien of Philadelphia was one of several House members who said the change caught them by surprise. "What happens to get in the way of a Kumbaya moment? The devil is in the details," O'Brien said.

However, the proposal touted by Piccola never made it to final passage, as efforts to find a compromise on other pieces of charter reform fizzled.