After a several-week review of the Douglas County School District's teacher-evaluation system, the Colorado Department of Education has found the district to be in compliance with the law.
The review came at the request of the Douglas County Federation of Teachers, which in May alleged that DCSD's new system, based on pay for performance, was "invalid and unreliable."
CDE commissioner of education Robert Hammond stated in a news release that the evaluation tool - known as CITE (Continuous Improvement of Teacher Effectiveness) - is "in compliance with the law and (we) do not have any findings that require further action on part of the district."
Douglas County School Board President Kevin Larsen said he appreciated the "thorough and objective review by CDE."
"CITE is a great evaluation tool developed by our teachers, for our teachers," he said in a news release. "Pay for performance is crucial to ensuring that we recognize, reward and keep our best teachers."
Larsen added that 91 percent of the district's teachers were rated "effective" or "highly effective."
Teacher and principal evaluations now are required in all Colorado school districts under Senate Bill 191, passed in 2010. Districts were allowed to adopt either the state's teacher evaluation program, or create their own. DCSD designed and introduced its own in 2012.
The evaluations are part of DCSD's pay-for-performance program. Based on self-evaluations, meetings with administrator-level evaluators and other factors, each teacher was assigned a rating ranging from "highly effective" to "ineffective." Pay increases are tied to those ratings, and also to a new market-based pay scale.
Teachers' union president Courtney Smith said at the time of the review request that DCSD failed to properly define the outcomes teachers needed to reach to secure peak ratings under the system, and hasn't changed the evaluations despite numerous complaints during the rollout year.
The department of education did recommend in its findings that the district improve its communication with educators through clearly stating its procedural policy tied to the evaluations and evaluation appeals on the DCSD website.
"The instrument (CITE) is in a continual refinement and improvement process involving staff members," a statement from the district reads. "CITE features multiple checks and balances - including second look, appeal, level one review and level two review."
To learn more about CITE, visit www.dcsdk12.org/district/evaluation-cite.