Illinois educators will be tested on a new set of guidelines in the coming months.
"This is cutting edge reform. Illinois is leading the entire nation on this education reform. There's a lot of eyes on it. I think everyone, whether they're a teacher, administrator or parent wants the best teachers in front of their kids," Quincy School Superintendent Lonny Lemon said.
The performance-based evaluations will take effect in the Quincy School District in March. It includes guidelines passed in the General Assembly last year. Staying in the classroom will then depend on the teacher's performance, not how long her or she has taught there.
Teachers will be ranked in four new categories, different from the three groupings they've experienced in the last decade.
"What that has caused is that most districts are using this three classification system: meets expectations, unsatisfactory or excellent. That's it. So now, we're going to a four system where it will be unsatisfactory, needs improvement, proficient and excellent," Lemon said.
Lemon says none of his teachers would fall into category one, but it's the second category they should worry about.
"Any teacher that falls into that is going to be at the lowest of the totem poll for a reduction in force. So it would make it possible that a teacher with tenure but has been rated by management as "needs improvement" would be riffed before a non-tenured teacher that's in category three, excellent or proficient. So I think that was the general impetus for the reform," Lemon said.
The new law requires all teachers in the district to be grouped into the new categories 75 days prior to the end of the school year.
Lemon says the district's biggest concern is regarding the template for teacher evaluations along with the six to eight day training administrators will have to pass before taking on an evaluation. The state of Illinois has not yet adopted the templates, yet the school's are expected to implement them within the next couple of months.
"That's our concern, is that maybe they're going a little too fast with the implementation. Because there's some deadlines coming up that we're going to have to make and we don't have the guidance yet," Lemon said.