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The Illinois Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) requires each school district to implement a teacher evaluation plan by Sept. 1, 2016 that includes “student growth as a significant factor in rating teaching performance.” Each school district must establish a joint committee comprised of an equal number of persons selected by the District and its teachers to work out the evaluation plan. If the joint committee does not agree on an evaluation plan within 180 days of the date it starts discussions on the plan under PERA, then the “district shall implement the model evaluation plan” that is established by ISBE.

Between January and June 2013, a District 65 Teacher Evaluation Committee (TEC), composed of 10 administrators and 10 teachers, reached consensus on a new teacher evaluation system. The new evaluation system, which goes into effect for the 2013-14 school year, was presented to the School Board on Aug. 19.

While the membership of TEC appears to meet the requirements of PERA, Paula Zelinski, president of the District Educators Council (DEC, the teachers union), told the RoundTable that the District did not invoke PERA and did not conduct the process under PERA. Invoking PERA would trigger the provision that if an evaluation plan was not agreed upon within 180 days, the model evaluation plan established by ISBE would kick in.

The evaluation system worked out by TEC may thus have a life span of three years. If teachers prefer the model evaluation plan established by ISBE, they may have the right to invoke PERA and negotiate a new plan. Absent agreement in 180 days, ISBE’s default plan would kick in.