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Tentative Hawaii Pact Would Finalize Evaluation System

After months of wrangling, Hawaii's statewide school district and its teachers' union have reached a tentative deal on a teacher contract that establishes a new teacher-evaluation system and increases wages for the state's teachers.

The four-year contract must be ratified by the rank-and-file of the Hawaii State Teachers Association; the vote is scheduled to take place April 17.

The history behind this contract is quite complicated. The unions' membership voted down a tentative contract in January of last year, leading to a protracted back-and-forth involving mediators, the state's labor-relations board, a symbolic contract vote last May, and a "last, best, and final" offer from the state. Part of the agreement in this deal, in fact, is for the HSTA to withdraw its complaint with the state's labor-relations board.

Honolulu Civil Beat posted the tentative contract on its website. Among its provisions:

  • Teachers would be moved to the next-higher salary step for 2013-14, and they would receive an across-the-board wage increase of 3.2 percent in 2014-15.
  • A new statewide teacher-evaluation system would begin July 1, though no adverse personnel actions could be taken as a result of the system in 2013-14.
  • Teachers earning less than an "effective" rating could have their annual salary step withheld.
  • Probationary teachers would need to earn two consecutive "effective" ratings in a row, within a three-year period, to gain tenure.
  • The HSTA and state would set up a joint committee to monitor the evaluation system.

Until recently, Hawaii was also in the doghouse with the U.S. Department of Education, because its failure to reach a contract put a new teacher-evaluation system—one of its key promises as part of its $75 million federal Race to the Top grant—in jeopardy. There were murmurings that the department might rescind part or all of the grant.

But as colleague Michele McNeil has reported, Hawaii recently won plaudits from the Education Department for making progress in many areas of its grant.

More than 100 schools in Hawaii have participated in components of the new teacher-evaluatinon system. And if this contract wins approval, it's likely to boost the state's case that it has made good on its promises.

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