New Trier Moves Toward Implementation of School Reform Law

The district also plans to keep its merit-rating system.

is getting ready to implement requirements of two Illinois school reform laws about the ways that employees are evaluated and the ways the district determines which teachers to let go if the district must lay off people.

New Trier Superintendent Linda Yonke said the district will keep its existing categories for teacher ratings, which go up to merit level five. Those ratings will correspond to the four levels that the new state law requires: Excellent, Proficient, Needs Improvement and Unsatisfactory. The top two levels of New Trier’s ratings will both be considered “Excellent.”

She discussed the plan Feb. 21 at the school board meeting on the


The sorting of teachers into four categories must begin next fall. Districts must then use those categories to help put teachers in groups for the purposes of “reduction in force,” which refers to dismissing teachers for reasons of enrollment or budget, not because of their competence.

The purpose of the state legislation was to reduce the importance of seniority in employment decisions, but New Trier has additional goals.

“One of our goals is to honor the qualities that New Trier has always stood for,” Yonke said. “We believe in the value of the merit system.”

The first group to be laid off would be first year teachers who do not have tenure and have not been rated. The second group would be teachers who have been rated as “Needs Improvement” or “Unsatisfactory.” The third group would be teachers who have received ratings one, two and three and are considered “Proficient” under the state categories. The fourth and last group that would be laid off would be those with merit rating four and five, both of which require years of experience and review by committees of other teachers. Merit rating four teachers are “master teachers,” and merit rating five teachers are “leader teachers.”

“It’s an extensive, comprehensive process,” Yonke said.

Teachers were apprised of the plans at an institute day Feb. 21.

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