A bill before the Senate Education committee would form a task force to look at teacher performance statewide. The education lobby supports the bill but has a few suggestions to make it better.

Senate Education Chairman David Pearce has introduced a bill that would create an 11-member task force comprising lawmakers, teachers, retirement and human resources staff, education researchers and the Commissioner of education.

Otto Fagen with the National Education Association points out a logistics issue.

“Putting in there that you have to have the thing designed around at least 50 percent of evaluations based on test scores might be a problem in terms of meeting the other standards in the bill, but that’s something the task force can wrestle with.”

Mike Wood with the Missouri State Teachers Association wants to see it expanded to include administrators, that they need to be evaluated, too.

Wood also says the Teachers Assocation doesn’t want to see a bill that would mandate local school boards to pay or not pay teachers based on evaluations, but would supply them with the tools and information they would need to make sound decisions.

Pearce says even though the school funding formula is still undetermined, this task force would not be dependent on how much money is available.

He says teachers who are found to be doing well would be rewarded — teachers who are not doing a good job would be identified and possibly removed. He says teachers who excel at their job would be rewarded. He wouldn’t say whether that reward meant a pay raise.

Pearce says the task force would look at education on a longe-range basis and encourage input from state. He also says the bill might be expanded to include more than just the 11 he originally called for, noting that he “doesn’t want to leave anybody out.”

The current bill would make the force up of: two state Senators, two members of the House, the Commissioner of Education (or someone designated by them), three active teachers, an active researcher, one person from PSRS (Public School Retirement Systems), and a human recources professional from the private sector.

The bill says up to 50 percent of eveluations will be based on how students do.

“It will give some options for folks to look at,” Pearce says. “By having teachers on it, as well as retired teachers, i think teachers are going to have to listen to it as well as be a part of it, so that’s good. It looks at tenure, it looks at compensation, how they do in the classroom, how to keep effective teachers, find ones that aren’t doing a good job and find them a new place to work.”

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports [Listen, Mp3, 1:24 min.]