The VA General Assembly is considering a number of bills that affect education. One is HB576, which deals with teacher contracts, evaluation policies, and reasons for terminating a teacher, among other things.
Currently teachers are hired for what is called a continuing contract after they’ve completed their probationary period. A continuing contract runs for 5 years and specifies step and grade increases, as well as the length of the school day and number of days in the school year.
Current state law requires each teacher to have an evaluation every three years, and requires the evaluation to include: “student academic progress and the skills and knowledge of instructional personnel, including, but not limited to, instructional methodology, classroom management, and subject matter knowledge.” The evaluation can be informal and doesn’t have to be written.
Teachers can only be terminated for just cause.
Local school divisions can issue local eligibility licenses to teacher candidates and hire teacher candidates holding local eligibility licenses as teachers.
New teachers currently serve a 3 year probationary period.
Proposed Changes Under HB 576
Name “continuing contract” will be changed to “term contract”. Contract length will be shortened to 3 years from 5.
School Year will be 200 days, of which 180 days (or 990 hours) will be instructional days.
Teachers will be formally evaluated once every three years, the evaluation must be written and will remain in the employees personnel file. An informal evaluation must be given each year in which a formal evaluation is not provided. One or more bad performance evaluations will be considered just cause for termination.
Local school divisions will no longer be able to issue local eligibility licenses to teacher candidates or employ people holding local eligibility licenses.
New teachers will be required to serve a 5 year probationary period and receive an informal evaluation in their first semester teaching. Experienced teachers who move to another school division in Virginia may be required to serve another 5 year probationary period with their new school division.
Terminations resulting from reductions in force must be based, in part, on the “performance evaluations of the teachers potentially affected by the reduction in workforce”.
The bill passed the House on Feb 13, 2012 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Health on Feb 14 2012.