A measure that would require stricter evaluations for Missouri teachers based on student achievement gained approval from a House committee Monday just days after Speaker Tim Jones removed two Republican colleagues from the panel for blocking the Senate-originated bill and two other lawmakers for opposing similar legislation introduced in the House.
The legislation, Senate Bill 125, would require school districts to implement an evaluation system for teachers and administrators directly affecting employment decisions made by superintendents, principals and local boards of education.
School personnel would be classified on a four-part scale ranging from highly effective to ineffective, and evaluations would be conducted at least annually.
A similar teacher evaluation proposal, House Bill 631, was defeated in the House of Representatives two weeks ago 102-55 with more than half of the chamber's Republicans opposing the measure.
Republican Rep. Mike Thomson, Maryville, and Rep. Elaine Gannon, another Republican from DeSoto, were both ousted by Jones from seats on the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee for opposing the bill, which Jones had declared one of his top legislative priorities.
SB 125, which mirrors HB-631 in many respects, has already been approved by the Senate and now goes to the House floor for consideration.
At the House committee level, Reps. Denny Hoskins of Warrensburg and Jeff Messenger of Republic had joined with Democrats to block SB-125. Then, last week, Jones removed Hoskins and Messenger from the House Fiscal Review panel.
Jones said the two Republicans voiced policy objections to the teacher evaluation measure rather than fiscal concerns, which he claimed ran counter to the panel's purpose.
He subsequently appointed two other Republicans, Reps. Kathy Swan of Cape Girardeau and Sony Anderson of Springfield, who both voted to advance the measure Monday.
For the committee to pass an already defeated measure, legislative rules require a member who voted "no" to ask for the bill to be reconsidered at the panel's next scheduled hearing.
Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City, made that request during Monday's hearing. He said he agreed to make the motion after receiving assurances from House Republican leadership that he could offer amendments loosening some of the bill's requirements and retaining certain teacher tenure protections.
Ellington said he wants to remove a provision that would require teachers to be fired if they receive negative evaluations for three consecutive years. He said he believes his amendment will pass because enough Republicans have expressed concerns about that portion of the bill.
He also wants to keep so-called "last-in first-out" protection that, under current law, requires school districts to lay off teachers with less seniority during lean budget years. SB-125 would eliminate job protection based on seniority.