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Legislation to change the process for evaluating public school teachers has cleared the Virginia Senate and is now on its way to the governor.
The bill is a compromise negotiated among major players, including the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, and the McDonnell administration.
The bill allows schools to extend the probation period for new teachers from three to five years, and requires teacher and administrator performance evaluations to include student academic progress. It also permits dismissal of a teacher with at least one unsatisfactory evaluation. Sen. Ralph Northam proposed making that two or more.
"It gives the teacher just a little bit more opportunity, a little bit more fairness, in the overall picture, and allows an extra year to be able to follow to see if they have improvements," says Northam.
But Sen. Dick Black says teachers told him that every school has an underperforming teacher.
"They were encouraging us to move forward and to make it easier to transition those teachers who are not performing into a more suitable field of work," says Black.
The Senate also sent the governor bills to allow local school divisions more flexibility in assigning support staff, and to add requirements for early reading intervention in kindergarten through second grade.