I am a teacher in Osseo and am currently serving on the Teacher Evaluation Work Group commissioned to write a statewide teacher evaluation model for the 2014-15 school year.

Our charge is to create an evaluation process that complies with the statute approved by the Legislature last summer. The purpose of this evaluation system is to improve the quality of teachers in Minnesota. You cannot improve if you don't know what you need to improve.

For the past six years, my home district has used such a system, although it lacks the statute's difficult requirement that 35 percent of an educator's evaluation be tied to test scores, including educators in subjects that lack standardized tests, such as guidance counselors.

Osseo's evaluation system was created through a collaborative effort between teachers and administrators, supported by our school board. It contains multiple measures and observations by trained evaluators. Some are peers with recent classroom experience; others are administrators.

Our goal is to move individual teachers forward in their craft, which in turn improves student learning. One of our key tactics is the use of professional learning communities, which recognize that teaching is a fundamentally collaborative effort.

We also have in place a process to remove teachers who either can't or won't improve. Thankfully, it's rarely used. That's a testament to our system of coaching and peer support of our teachers.

We have seen positive results, but I fear the bill passed by the Legislature that would create a ranking system for teachers during layoffs will undo all our gains.

The proposed system will make teaching a competition to keep a job vs. a collaborative environment to help all our students learn.

My hope is we will not implement this competitive approach, which will harm students, but instead will let the Teacher Evaluation Work Group do its work so that the legislated evaluation system can be implemented and improve teaching and learning, as it has done in my district.

I encourage the governor to veto any legislation that leads to competition vs. collaboration in our schools.


Jay Anderson is a teacher in Osseo public schools.