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2012 Issue: Public Education Employment Reform

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Public Education Employment Reform

  - Download a printable Senate Bill 64 Fact Sheet (PDF)
  - View the Public Education Employment Reform presentation

Senate Bill 64 (1st sub.): Public Education Employment Reform
 is a major education reform bill impacting public education and school employees in many ways. It passed the Senate February 29, 2012, on a vote of 26-2, and the House March 6 on a vote of 73-1 and was signed into law by the Governor on March 27. The bill had the support of the parents, teachers, administrators, policymakers, business leaders and others.

  • See why teachers support SB64.

What SB64 Does

(NOTE: "Line" references are to line numbers in the enrolled bill)

Raises the level of accountability for all educators

  • Requires all education employees be evaluated annually and that a probationary or provisional educator be evaluated twice a year (lines 457-465)
  • Specifies that a summative evaluation differentiate among four levels of performance (line 565)
  • Requires the collection and reporting of data on the aggregate distribution of employee evaluation ratings (lines 644-655)
  • Guarantees the privacy and protection of individual evaluation data (lines 654-655)
  • Creates a definition of unsatisfactory performance separate from causes for immediate termination (lines 410-414)

   (See more about the educator evaluation process)

Highlights the importance of continuous instructional improvement

  • Specifies that educator evaluations be based on students learning growth (or achievement) and instructional quality (lines 632-638)
  • Requires the development and implementation of a valid and reliable evaluation tool (lines 468-477)
  • Allows a local school board to develop its own evaluation program, within guidelines set by the State Board of Education, or adopt an evaluation program developed by the State Board (lines 524-526)
  • Clarifies the expectations for providing a plan of assistance to an employee in order to improve employee performance and provide a quality educator in every classroom (lines 669-673)

Ties salary to satisfactory performance

  • Requires a district’s compensation system be aligned with an annual evaluation system (lines 827-831)
  • Provides that any advancement on a salary schedule be based primarily on an evaluation (lines 833-834)
  • Specifies that an employee may not advance on a salary schedule if their rating is the lowest level on a four-point scale (lines 835-837)
  • With certain exceptions, provides that an employee may not advance on a salary schedule if their rating is the second lowest level on a four-point scale (lines 840-845)

Expedites and clarifies the process for dismissal

  • If an evaluation identifies an employee’s performance as unsatisfactory, streamlines the process for remediation to no more than 120 school days, with certain exceptions (lines 746-775)
  • If upon re-evaluation the employee’s performance is still identified as unsatisfactory, the district may terminate the employee (lines 776-780)
  • Prohibits the transfer to another school of an employee whose performance is unsatisfactory, unless approved by the local school board (lines 821-822)

Requires greater accountability for administrators

  • Requires that an administrator’s evaluation include components such as student achievement, parent, student and employee input, and the effectiveness of evaluating employee performance (lines 860-867)
  • Implements a compensation system partially based on an administrator’s evaluation (lines 875-880)


How is it that such a sweeping public education reform proposal could achieve so much overwhelming support?



That’s not the way it began. In fact, the original proposal put forth by the State Board of Education and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Aaron Osmond, included a number of reforms strongly opposed by the UEA and others, such as making all teachers “at will” employees, moving all educators to performance pay, eliminating the Orderly Termination Act for public educators, and minimizing negotiated agreements.

To his credit, Sen. Osmond made his proposal public and asked for feedback. Teachers responded in a big way, sending messages respectfully explaining concerns. As a result, the Senator put his legislation “on hold” and took to the road where he listened to teachers, administrators, board members and superintendents.

As a result of these meetings, Sen. Osmond convened a workgroup of stakeholders to address concerns. Representatives from the State Board of Education, the Utah State Office of Education, the Utah School Boards Association, the Utah School Superintendents Association and the UEA met for several months working on details.

“For the first time that I can remember, UEA was ‘at the table’ and an integral partner in the creation of a major reform bill,” said UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “As with any negotiation we did not get all we wanted, but being part of the process allowed us to focus on student learning while protecting teacher rights.”

Indeed, negotiations on this bill were a give-and-take process, according to the UEA Legislative Team. Because of SB64, many harmful bills – such as those that would make all teachers “at-will” employees, eliminate or restrict collective bargaining, or move teachers to a pay-for-test-scores model – failed or were abandoned.

As the bill moved forward, concepts were discussed internally with the UEA Board, the UEA Council of Local Presidents, UniServ Directors, UEA Legal Counsel and UEA members. “We received support and input from each of these groups and I believe the (final) bill reflects our concerns and honors our contract, preserves orderly termination procedures and elevates our profession,” said Gallagher-Fishbaugh.”

Full implementation of SB64 will not begin immediately. In order to coordinate with the evaluation framework already in development by the State Board of Education and to allow for piloting and assessing the new evaluation system, compliance with all evaluation requirements must be in place by 2014-15. For non-administrators, tying performance on an evaluation to advancement on a salary schedule must begin by 2015-16. For administrators, phasing in salary increases until up to 15 percent of salary is based on an evaluation must begin by 2015-16. Provisions regarding the process for nonrenewal of a contract may begin immediately.

In an email to all UEA members, UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh explained why the UEA supported this proposal.

At one point, two competing bills were moving through the Utah Legislature that would impact the way teachers are evaluated and compensated. One, SB67 (1st sub.): Teacher Effectiveness and Outcomes Based Compensation, was promoted by special interest group Parents for Choice in Education (the private school voucher proponents) and has had little input from the education community. The other, SB64 (1st sub.): Public Education Employment Reform, was the result of months of collaboration between many education stakeholders, including the UEA.

  • Read more about why the UEA supported SB64 and opposed SB67 here.

Throughout the process, Sen. Osmond was very receptive to working with the UEA and addressing educators' concerns.

  • Read what Sen. Osmond had to say about his bill here.

Sen. Osmond and State Supt. Larry Shumway sponsored a series of meetings around the state in early November to hear feedback on the proposal. Nearly 1,000 teachers turned out to express their feelings.

  • Read Sen. Osmond's blog explaining "Lessons Learned" from these meetings here.

Recent News

  • Senator receives accolades for unique approach to education reform 03/08/2012
    (KSL-TV) One unprecedented thing to emerge from the 2012 Legislature centers on education reform. Not so much the bill, but the way freshman Sen. Aaron Osmond proposed it.

  • Utah Legislature passes administrator evaluation bill 03/08/2012
    (Deseret News) “This bill represents historic collaboration efforts between the Legislature, parents and the public education community throughout the state,” said House bill sponsor Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton. “This is the first piece of legislation where we look at holding administrators instead of just teachers responsible.”

  • Legislature passes educator accountability bill 03/07/2012
    (Salt Lake Tribune) The House passed SB64 by 73-1 on Tuesday, and the bill now awaits the Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature. The bill would require administrators to undergo annual evaluations based on student academic progress; ability to complete teacher evaluations; feedback from parents, employees and students; and other criteria to be decided by a local school board. It would also eventually tie at least 15 percent of their pay to performance.

  • Bill to change educator employment laws passes Utah Senate 03/01/2012
    (Salt Lake Tribune) The Senate passed SB64 on Wednesday by 26-2, meaning it goes to the House for consideration. The bill would require administrators to undergo annual evaluations based on student academic progress, leadership skills, ability to complete teacher evaluations and other areas to be decided by a local school board. It would also eventually tie at least 15 percent of their pay to performance.

  • Public education stakeholders endorse evaluation bill 02/28/2012
    (Deseret News) The State Office of Education, Utah Education Association, Utah Parent Teacher Association and other groups from the public education community Monday threw their support behind a bill that would evaluate school administrators and teachers.

  • Utah teacher employment bill gets early nod, but only after debate 02/28/2012
    (Salt Lake Tribune) The Senate ultimately gave preliminary approval Monday to SB64, voting 26-3 to advance it to third reading, meaning it must pass the Senate once more before going to the House. But that vote came after lengthy debate on the bill, which would hold administrators, teachers and other school district employees more accountable by tying performance to pay and continued employment.

  • Top-down model 02/28/2012
    (Salt Lake Tribune Editorial) One of this year’s crop of bills that would serve that misguided mission is SB67, a purely top-down directive to schools with no collaboration and no input from the people trained and experienced in either the philosophy or practice of education. SB67 would go too far in dictating how teachers should be compensated, with no data on how such a radical change would affect student achievement, or how it might help or hinder the state in recruiting and keeping excellent teachers.

  • Reward excellence 02/15/2012
    (Salt Lake Tribune Editorial) Osmond’s bill, if properly implemented, would be the first real attempt to require teachers to meet certain standards and to ease the way for administrators to dismiss them if they don’t. That “if” has been a problem in the past, when administrators and teacher unions have found ways to circumvent legislative mandates to tie pay increases or bonuses to performance and adopt evaluation systems that can lead to dismissals of poor teachers. It’s a hopeful sign that SB64 has the backing of the Utah Education Association.

  • Utah bill to change school employment laws advances 02/14/2012
    (Salt Lake Tribune) The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved SB64, a bill that aims to hold teachers, administrators and other district employees more accountable for their performance by tying it to pay and continued employment. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for consideration.

  • Senate bill: evaluate administrators to improve schools 02/14/2012
    (Deseret News) SB64, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, highlights the idea that "administrators want to hold themselves more accountable," Osmond told a Senate committee Monday. It's a big departure from the intent he expressed last fall to move teachers to a performance pay system and eliminate "career status" for teachers, making them easier to fire.

  • Utah lawmaker unveils teacher employment bill 02/10/2012
    (Salt Lake Tribune) On Wednesday, Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, released the text of SB64, which he said is scheduled to be heard in committee next week. The bill would aim to hold teachers, administrators and other district employees more accountable for their performance by tying it to their pay and employment.

  • Sen. Osmond Introduces SB64: Public Education Employment Reform Bill 02/09/2012
    ( Senator Aaron Osmond is sponsoring SB64 Public Education Employment Reform in the 2012 Legislative Session after gathering input from educators and education stakeholders across the state about how to change the way the public education workforce is managed, including discussions about implementing performance pay and removing so-called “teacher tenure.”

  • Utah senator says teacher morale is low and lawmakers need to address teacher perceptions 11/17/2011
    (Deseret News) "They are discouraging new teachers from entering the profession. ... They feel classroom size is an issue. ... They feel that they don't have the professional development support they need," said Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, at an Education Interim Committee meeting. "That's what they feel. I'm not validating it or invalidating it. I'm communicating it to this group."

  • Seeking Input and Perspective from Our Educators: Comments and Thoughts on the Education Employee Reform Act Proposal 11/04/2011
    (USOE Blog by Sen. Aaron Osmond) As I have met with parents, educators, and administrators, many have asked me if I could simplify the details of the proposal down to a few bullet points that we could easily discuss and compare. Here are the key points of the proposed legislation as I see them.

  • Bill would change teacher employment rules 11/08/2011
    ( Osmond wants to reshape Utah's employment laws for teachers. Currently, educators can attain career status after teaching for three to five years, then they can only be fired after due process.

  • Teacher Contract Proposal Draws Mixed Reaction 11/08/2011
    (KCPW News) Major changes could be on the way for Utah teachers. Backed with support from the State Board of Education, Republican Senator Aaron Osmond, who just took office last spring, has proposed the Education Employee Reform Act, which could mean shorter teacher contracts and performance-based salaries.

  • Senator shares plans to change firing laws with teachers 11/08/2011
    (Salt Lake Tribune) Utah lawmakers are no strangers to tweaking education policy. But one freshman senator is taking an uncommon approach before he introduces a bill that could reshape the way teachers are fired and paid in Utah. He is asking teachers for their advice.