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Quinn signs law keeping teacher evaluations secret
By Chase Castle | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/16/2010 12:01 AM

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SPRINGFIELD - Public school teachers and administrators will face tougher evaluations linked to student performance under a new state law, though the trade-off is that parents and the public will never see those reports.

In addition to adopting new criteria for judging teacher performance, the legislation Gov. Pat Quinn signed Friday morning in Chicago prevents anyone from using the Freedom of Information Act to obtain teacher and administrator evaluations.

Those tougher evaluations will be a "significant" factor for qualifying Illinois for up to $500 million in federal stimulus dollars, Quinn's office said.

"Rigorous teacher and principal evaluations will make our education system the best it can be," Quinn said in a prepared statement. "This law is another strong signal to Washington that a top-notch education for all Illinois students is our foremost priority."

Under the legislation, dozens of Illinois districts, including Chicago schools, will begin using the new teacher evaluations in 2012, with full statewide implementation by 2016, according to a news release from the governor's office, and all districts will implement the new principal evaluations in 2012

Lawmakers quickly approved the legislation with the public disclosure exemptions this week and sent it on to Quinn for his signature.

Lawmakers said they felt obligated to exempt the new evaluations from FOIA law in order to appease teachers unions, who argued the reviews are too complicated for public consumption and could be misinterpreted.

The decision to make the exemption comes just weeks after the new FOIA laws championed by lawmakers and the state attorney general as tokens of government transparency went into effect.

Applications for the funds are due Tuesday, Jan. 19.