The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 9, 2014

Most districts ready to evaluate new teachers


Tyler Livingston, educator evaluation specialist for the Minnesota Department of Education, said the state’s model is an example of best practices and districts can create whatever teacher evaluation system works best.

“There’s few ceilings, if you will, to what possible practices could emerge from this work so long as it meets with the criteria that’s laid out in the statute from the Legislature,” he said.

The Department of Education, the state teachers union and the Minnesota Association of School Administrators are working with districts to help them put their teacher evaluations in place by fall, he said.

Districts in Minnesota’s Q-comp system, which uses state money to reward teachers for their performance, need only to tweak their existing evaluations. Close to half of the state’s districts are in Q-comp and can use $75 million in state funding next school year to pay for evaluations.

The 188 non Q-comp districts will have to split $11 million.

Specht, the state teacher’s union president, said lawmakers should consider giving more money to districts.

“This is one time money and we are going to have to come back next year and talk about funding this so we can do this well,” she said.

Specht thinks even if all of the state’s districts are able to get their evaluation systems in place by the fall, they’ll likely need to tweak them during the first year of implementation.

Livingston agrees. He said the evaluation system isn’t meant to be a rigid and will be a living exercise that changes with the development needs of the state’s teachers.

Daniel Sellers, executive director of the education reform group MinnCan, said the work districts are doing shows just how important the evaluation system is.

“We think that’s a sign that school leaders and teachers and community leaders are supportive of the idea that teachers should have meaningful and relevant evaluations,” he said.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard in Mankato on 90.5 FM or at

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