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State school board members signed off on a framework for a new evaluation system Friday that ties teacher pay to test scores and in-class observation.
While many of the details will be left up to individual school districts, the state board's model calls for 70 percent of a teacher's rating to be based on classroom observation, 20 percent on student performance and 10 percent on stakeholder, or parent, feedback.
But several board members were uncomfortable with the evaluation system. They worried that classroom observation could be subject to bias and that the different ways student performance is measured could result in inconsistency.
Board member Leslie Castle asked if there was a way to record teachers in the classroom, or have them evaluated by another school's principal, to avoid the change in both student and educator behavior when a school administrator enters the room.
"I always was really nice to my kids when I was at the pediatrician's office and they were misbehaving," she said. "When I was in the car after ... guess what? It looked very different."
Other board members questioned how student performance would be measured.
Currently only math, English and science are included in SAGE, the state's year-end testing system, and the results of those tests are influenced by absenteeism and families that decline to participate.
"They may be in a high poverty area where half the kids don't come to class," board member Terryl Warner said.
Deputy State Superintendent Sydnee Dickson said the state has been piloting an evaluation system for the past three years, and the framework will continue to be updated to address concerns.
But teacher evaluations are required by law, she added, and some inconsistencies are inevitable.
"We have to remember that SB64 is driving this. It was an unfunded mandate," she said. "Districts will have to figure out by statute how they're going to engage in performance pay."
SB64, sponsored by South Jordan Republican Sen. Aaron Osmond, was passed by lawmakers in 2012. It requires that teachers and administrators be ranked on a four-point scale, with only those educators who earn top rankings eligible for scheduled salary increases.