Illinois Takes Giant Leap Forward

April 19th, 2011

Category: News, Policy and Practice

The Illinois Senate unanimously passed sweeping legislation that would use teacher performance as the primary metric in decisions impacting teachers – with the support of all stakeholders, including teachers’ unions and school management groups.    

The legislation is a friendly reminder that Delaware has come a long way in our teacher quality reform efforts – most noticeably in our current work of revamping our DPAS II evaluation system to incorporate multiple measures of student growth in determining effectiveness as well as our work around career pathways for our highly-effective educators. 

However, Illinois has taken these efforts a step further by*:

  • requiring districts consider performance and qualifications in the unfortunate circumstance of layoffs – rather than simply seniority; and
  • making teacher qualifications, ‘relevant experience’, ability, and certifications the primary criteria for filling vacant positions while forbidding forced placement of teachers.

What can Delaware do to lift our professional practices to the same level as Illinois?  For starters, we could require performance be the primary factor in all decisions – rather than leaving it up to local districts.  Second, we could change our 62-year old funding system to be more flexible and equitable – enabling districts and schools to hire and support the right mix of teachers to help meet their individual students’ needs.  And last, we could change our salary schedule in order to effectively recruit, select, support, and retain highly-effective educators into our workforce. 

We applaud Illinois for taking these bold steps and joining Delaware, along with numerous other states, at the front of national teacher quality reform efforts – and look forward to collaborating in the future on lessons learned.  

*In addition to efforts around teacher quality, Senate Bill 7 dramatically increases learning time for students in Chicago Public Schools (who have the shortest school day and year of any major urban district) – which we know could dramatically increase achievement. 

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Brett Turner



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