The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recently updated its Non-Regulatory Guidance on the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) and Senate Bill 7 (SB 7). Similar to the 2012 guidance, the updated Non-Regulatory Guidance covers a wide range of topics in a question and answer format, including teacher evaluations, tenure acquisition, and reductions in force. The updated Guidance now also incorporates the finalized regulations regarding teacher evaluations, set forth in 23 Ill. Admin. Code Part 50, as well as applicable amendments to the Illinois School Code that have been adopted since 2012. Among other changes, the Guidance now includes new and updated questions and answers regarding the following topics:

  • ISBE’s Model Teacher Evaluation Plan set forth in 23 Ill. Admin. Code 50.210 and the components that a school district must implement if its PERA Joint Committee does not reach agreement on any or all aspects of the evaluation plan with respect to the use of data and indicators of student growth as a significant factor in rating teacher performance;
  • Performance evaluations, including which employees’ performance evaluations must include student growth, the extent to which evaluations can be conducted during a principal’s first year, and how the issuance of multiple evaluation ratings in one school year should be handled;
  • Pre-qualification and retraining of qualified evaluators, including clarification on the modules each evaluator must complete to pre-qualify;
  • Licensure action that the State Superintendent may take against an individual who receives two unsatisfactory ratings within a seven-year period;
  • The impact of school district consolidation on tenure acquisition, teacher evaluations, and reductions in force; and
  • Reductions in force and recall rights, including the limited recall rights now afforded to certain teachers in Group 2 as a result of P.A. 98-648.

With most Illinois school districts preparing for their upcoming PERA Implementation Dates, the issuance of ISBE’s updated Non-Regulatory Guidance is particularly timely.