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AP: Idaho Department of Ed Drafted, Then 'Scrapped,' Teacher Evaluation Deal With Same Firm That Audited Current System

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Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra
  • Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra
Buried in all the snow-related headlines Wednesday was a report from the Associated Press revealing Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra was "quietly working" with a Colorado-based company to manage an overhaul of Idaho's teacher evaluation system at the same time the company was auditing the current system.

According to the AP, Ybarra nixed the overhaul after getting feedback from a number of Idaho district school superintendents, and would instead keep the department's current model, known as the Charlotte Danielson system.

Kimberlee Kruesi, of the Associated Press, reports internal emails obtained by the news agency showed "Ybarra and her executive staffers were working closely with McRel International to build a new system for several months in 2016" and began drafting a contract for the company in the weeks after the audit was finished.

The McRel audit concluded nearly every Idaho public school teacher evaluation failed to meet state guidelines. Auditors found some school administrators "ignored laws and rules for evaluations or did not understand the evaluation system." Out of 225 evaluations audited, only three had been completed correctly.

Officials in Ybarra's office told the AP that they "didn't believe there was any conflict of interest created by working with McRel [on a possible replacement] while the audit was underway," noting that another company was also invited to submit a proposal for a new system, which was received after the audit was completed.

Teacher evaluations have become a central concern of Idaho educators, as a five-year so-called "career ladder" system approved by the Idaho Legislature in 2015 will make evaluation scores a factor in teacher compensation.

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