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Senate Passes Teacher Evaluation Bill

Act could head off fight at the ballot box this fall.

Senate Passes Teacher Evaluation Bill

A day after the Legislature's Education Committee endorsed a bill that reduces the importance of seniority in teacher-hiring decisions, the Senate last week voted to approve it. 

The bill comes as a compromise between the Massachusetts Teachers Association and Stand for Children, an advocacy group that was pushing to put that would base hiring and promotion decisions on evaluations and student test scores.

In the compromise, seniority can be used as a factor in such decisions but not as the primary factor. Also, Chapter 70 money would be used to implement the evaluation programs, including training for them.

The bill was passed on a voice vote Thursday, a day after both the state's largest labor union, the AFL-CIO and the Massachusetts chapter of the American Federation of Teachers dropped their opposition to it. The bill now moves to the House.

"With [Thursday's] action in the Senate, Massachusetts is one major step closer to having a system that ensures every child has a great teacher, promises every parent a quality education for their children, and recognizes the important work that teachers do," Stand for Children says on its website.

But not everyone is so happy. 

Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville), a former teacher, said the Senate had little choice: "It is the best possible outcome to a hostage situation," she told the Boston Globe.

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