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Two key reforms for Race to the Top pass Senate

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Reforms that are considered key to Oklahoma’s application for $175 million in Race to the Top grant money passed the Senate Tuesday.

Senate Bill 2033 is ostensibly a Race to the Top reform package that creates a system for teacher incentive pay, modifying teacher and administration evaluations, and creating a Race to the Top commission.

The 45 page bill passed the Senate 37-10 with an emergency clause that would have the bill take effect the moment the governor signs it. The bill now heads to the House for consideration.

A key change to the teacher evaluation system is a proposed Oklahoma Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Evaluation System that will score teachers on five levels: superior, highly effective, effective, needs improvement and ineffective.

The assessment will be based 35 percent on student academic growth as measured by standardized test data, 15 percent on “other” academic measurements, and 50 percent on “rigorous and fair qualitative assessment components.”

Also approved Tuesday, was an amendment to the state’s charter school law, which if approved by the House and signed into law will remove the cap of how many charter schools can open in a year for metropolitan areas with a population of more than 500,000.

Changes to the charter school law, contained in Senate Bill 1862, passed the Senate 33-14, and is considered a key step in proving to the US Department of Education that Oklahoma is serious about education reforms promised in its Race to the Top application.

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