Lawmakers delay start of new teacher evaluations

CARSON CITY - A panel of lawmakers on Thursday agreed to delay for one year a new statewide performance evaluation system for public school teachers and administrators.

The new evaluation system was proposed to begin in the 2014-15 school year, but the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee was told it is not ready to be implemented.

The committee was told that while a great deal of work has been done on the project, more work is needed to ensure that using student achievement data to evaluate educators is legally defensible.

Pam Salazar, chairwoman of the Nevada Teachers and Leaders Council, said the group passed a motion asking for a delay because it is not ready for implementation.

The committee voted unanimously for the delay.

Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Reno, said it is important for the state to get it right the first time.

Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said that while lawmakers want to move forward, the state needs a good product before the evaluation program can begin.

The new system would incorporate student performance data as 50 percent of a teacher’s annual evaluation.

In a letter to the committee, Pat Skorkowsky, superintendent of the Clark County School District, said that while progress has been made toward implementing the Nevada Educator Performance Network, a delay is necessary.

Under Nevada’s now-delayed system, teachers and school-level administrators would earn one of four designations, from ineffective to highly effective, based on their score. The scoring system will be split into two equally weighted parts.

The first half would rely almost entirely on an administrator’s observations of that teacher under five standards. The second half relies solely on student scores from state tests.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.