From Chicago Tribune by Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah:
For the first time, Chicago Public Schools released teacher evaluations Tuesday based in part on student test scores, but the new assessments for 2012-2013 did not show striking changes from the previous year.

Results were rolled out for more than 4,200 non-tenured teachers only, with evaluations for the 15,000 tenured teachers planned over the next two years.

The new evaluation system a point of contention during last year's teacher strike was begun after the old system was criticized for relying on a 40-year-old checklist and for allowing more than 90 percent of tenured teachers to be rated excellent or proficient even as students across the district were failing.

School districts have been moving toward more rigorous teacher evaluations tied to student performance. The reforms have been controversial, with some teachers saying the ratings based partly on student scores are unfair and could cost teachers their jobs. But for reformers, it's a crucial step.

Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she has seen many teacher evaluation systems be "I gotcha" plans, and that this new CPS assessment is focused instead on teachers' development.

CPS is the first district in Illinois to roll out the new evaluations mandated by a 2010 state law. In the first two years, 25 percent of a teacher evaluation is to be based on measures of student progress, including test scores. In the third year, it rises to 30 percent.

Among the non-tenured teachers assessed under the new evaluation system this past year, those earning CPS' two highest ratings excellent and proficient dropped from 60 percent to 57.6 percent. District officials believe new assessment tools for principals have helped administrators more accurately classify teachers. They point to 2009-2010, when 75.5 percent of non-tenured teachers earned the two top ratings.

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