The competition for jobs in the workplace these days is stronger than ever, fueled by the high numbers of unemployed college graduates. Whether it's someone in sports or an employee in private industry, if the performance isn't there, one can have much anxiety about job security.

It is little surprise, therefore, that on Wednesday, state lawmakers voted 199-0 for a compromise amendment to overhaul the way teachers and principals are evaluated in the commonwealth. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster, called the compromise "ground breaking legislation."

Presently in this state, an educator's performance rating is determined exclusively by superiors during classroom evaluations. A spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett stated that this system has been ineffective, evidenced in the fact that 99 percent of the educators receive a "satisfactory" rating.

Under the new proposal, the classroom evaluations would count for half of the performance rating and the remaining half would be determined by different measures of student achievement. These new factors include standardized test scores as well as school projects, quiz scores and various classroom activities.

According to the Pennsylvania State Education Association, which is supporting the compromise bill, the measure would not only apply to public school teachers and principals but to educators in technical schools, charter and cyber charter schools and intermediate units.

PSEA President Mike Crossey said that educators are not afraid of having performance evaluations and want to make sure that the evaluations are based on the wide variety of factors that go into teaching the students. He feels the new proposal achieves those goals.

Rep. Aument said that although this is seen as ground breaking within Pennsylvania, similar laws are already in effect in 23 states and in the District of Columbia.

Evaluations should be performance-driven. In industry, the quality of the product being produced is the result of work performance.

In education, the products are the torchbearers to our future – the students.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com