School children won't be back in the classroom for a while yet, but the new school year in Oregon begins Monday 1.
It is also the deadline for districts to submit plans for a new teacher evaluation system, mandated by the state Legislature.
A few districts started early and developed pilot programs. Erin Whitlock, a consultant who has helped with some of the pilots for the Oregon Education Association, says there was supposed to be one more year to test the new systems -- but the timeline changed, leaving many schools scrambling.
"Technically, I presume that most districts will be able to turn in the paperwork," she says. "You know, the homework is due, they'll turn it in. But is it going to be as thorough and as thoughtful as they would have liked? No, I don't think it is going to be as thoughtful. If we were all graded on our homework, I don't know that we'd all earn A's."
One of the larger districts that worked on a pilot is North Clackamas, where Robin Troche is a high school teacher. She says educators and administrators collaborated on the new system, and thinks it creates solid standards for excellence in teaching.
In the real world, however, Troche says they may be tough to achieve when school budgets are tight.
"Unfortunately, the standards and actually, the ideal of teaching, is built on a far more resourced system than what we currently have in the state of Oregon," she explains. "That is definitely a challenge, when you have very full and very crowded classrooms."
The new evaluation system is supposed to define effective teaching and analyze how teachers relate not only to their students, but to the staff members they work with.
The legislature passed a 2011 law requiring districts to come up with new performance standards that hold teachers accountable based on more than just their students' test scores.
Chris Thomas of Oregon News Service provided this report