Ohio’s Teacher Evaluation System: An Ever-Changing Hodgepodge Of Legislation

One thing appears certain for next school year — the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) will once again undergo changes. With the second year of the statewide implementation of the system not even finished, the Ohio General Assembly is already working to change the rules for year three. While teachers and principals are still acclimating to the changes adopted last summer, they can all expect to arrive back in August to a process that will look different. The only question at this point is how different?

Multiple pieces of legislation making their way through the Ohio House and Senate contain provisions that seek to change rules and components of how and when teachers throughout the state are evaluated. While the elected legislators will simply call this a matter of “tweaking” the system, every little change ultimately has far-reaching effects for everyone.

Ever since 2011, with Senate Bill 5, the Ohio General Assembly has been promoting the concept of merit pay for teachers based on the state’s evaluation system. Since then, based on a strong push be the state to adopt merit-based compensation components, some school districts and teacher unions across the state have already entered into contracts that include varied stipulations based on a teachers’ OTES rating. Every time the legislators tinker with the metrics that lead to a final rating, these agreements undergo fundamental changes that alter the results and undermine the locally negotiated contract process.

Instead of being a single, comprehensive, well-thought-out and tested system, OTES is simply a mishmash of various pieces and patches with numerous conflicting and gap-filled components that even the Ohio Department of Education cannot accurately interpret nor help schools implement with confidence.

(Read more at Plunderbund)