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The Washington Senate this afternoon overwhelmingly passed a compromise bill to change how the state’s public school teachers are evaluated.

The legislation, approved 46-3, has been the subject of intense debate over the past few weeks, including days of negotiations moderated by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Substitute Senate Bill 5895 represents a compromise between the business community, Republicans and moderate Democrats, groups who have been pushing for stricter and stronger evaluations that include the use of student test scores, and most Democrats and the state teachers union, advocates of more modest change.

The compromise language requires test scores be used as a factor in evaluations. And starting in the 2015-2016 school year, the evaluations could be used as a factor in personnel decisions.

“This will make a difference in the lives of our children in our schools,” said Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, in closing the debate on the floor.

McAuliffe is the chair of the Senate’s K-12 education committee.

The bill will now move to the House.