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Originally published Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 8:04 PM

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Wash. teacher evaluation bills come back to life

Two proposals to change the way Washington state evaluates teachers are back in play in Olympia after being blocked last week by the statehouse education committee chairs.

Associated Press

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SEATTLE —

Two proposals to change the way Washington state evaluates teachers are back in play in Olympia after being blocked last week by the statehouse education committee chairs.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee heard two new teacher evaluation bills on Tuesday afternoon, and voted to advance both bills Tuesday evening. Senate Bills 5895 and 5896 are very similar to proposals that did not make it out of either the Senate or House education committees.

Senate Bill 5895 is supported by the governor, the teachers union, school principals and administrators. It would continue the work started two years ago to revamp state teacher evaluations and spend money on training evaluators.

The other bill is supported by education reform and business groups and would require districts to use student test scores as a factor in teacher evaluations.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A pair of proposals to change the way Washington state evaluates teachers came back into play in Olympia on Tuesday after being blocked last week by the statehouse education committee chairs.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee heard two new teacher evaluation bills on Tuesday afternoon. Senate Bills 5895 and 5896 are very similar to proposals that did not make it out of either the Senate or House education committees.

Senate Bill 5895 is supported by the governor, the teachers union, school principals and administrators. It would continue the work started two years ago to revamp state teacher evaluations and spend money on training evaluators.

The other is supported by education reform and business groups and would require districts to use student test scores as a factor in teacher evaluations.

Senate Bill 5896 would also consider evaluations in teacher hiring or firing decisions, and it would require teachers to reach a certain level of competence on their evaluations before they would earn a continuing contract.

After the education committee chairs in both houses last week refused to call for a vote on a proposal to allow public charter schools in Washington state, other lawmakers who support charter schools said they would refuse to vote on any other policy bills unless the charter bills were set free.

Among the victims of that fight were the teacher evaluation proposals.

Friday was the deadline for moving policy bills out of committee and Tuesday was technically the committee deadline for bills that have a fiscal impact.

But since Washington lawmakers have been known to revive bills long after they missed legislative cutoff deadlines, no idea is truly dead if someone in power - like the governor - wants to bring it back to life.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, both said on Friday that they would find a way to keep the teacher evaluation proposals alive.

Ways and Means Committee Chair Sen. Ed Murray was not available to comment because he was in an hours-long committee hearing in advance of the cutoff.

The governor was pleased that progress on her proposal continues, said her spokeswoman Karina Shagren.

"The governor has proven she is committed to ensuring that every student and teacher has the tools necessary to succeed. A credible and effective evaluation system is essential to that effort," Shagren said.

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