“The goal of teacher evaluation is to strengthen educator support and practice and to improve student learning,” CEA President Sheila Cohen told reporters at a news conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford today. “With 43,000 educator-members across the state, we’ve had enormous opportunity to assess the new evaluation system against that goal. After extensively polling and surveying our members, we have concluded that our state’s current teacher evaluation guidelines are actually detrimental to student learning.”
Saying that the current teacher evaluation guidelines result in too much bureaucracy for teachers and administrators and lost student learning time, CEA leaders today called for changes to improve and simplify evaluation and professional development.
CEA’s new proposed evaluation guidelines:
- Elevate the importance of classroom work and curriculum-based materials to ensure alignment and that time is spent on teaching and learning rather than prepping and testing.
- Make the current, two-year waiver of using Mastery Exam scores for evaluation (SBAC, CMT, etc.) permanent.
- Allow teachers to pursue “Innovation Goals” to promote innovation in the classroom.
- Simplify the guidelines and clarify the core requirements that serve as a foundation for quality educator evaluation and support plans.
- Enable teachers and administrators to be more collaborative and innovative in the development of their local evaluation and support plans.
The CEA plan measures student growth and development in multiple ways that include but are not limited to: portfolios of student work aligned to the curriculum; student performance assessments or tasks assessed using a mutually agreed to scoring system (such as constructed projects, student oral work, and other written work); teacher developed tests aligned to the curriculum; and periodic assessments that document student growth over time.
“Policymakers must look to the research that shows us what works best in raising student achievement—not more and more testing, but authentic activities that promote critical thinking, creative problem-solving, collaboration, and communication,” Cohen said.
CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg said that the Every Student Succeeds Act that was signed into law in December gives us here in Connecticut “the unique opportunity to rethink our flawed teacher evaluation system.”
Waxenberg explained, “Our proposal takes the best parts of the present system, and improves it. It does this by eliminating confusing mandated guidelines that take precious time from teaching and learning and define teachers’ and students’ success by a test score—rather than by a students’ growth and development.”
CEA officers and staff collaborated extensively with members to develop the new guidelines, meeting with educators from around the state this fall and winter. Members shared that they like the opportunities in the current evaluation system to reflect on their teaching and to get useful feedback from their evaluators to improve practice. However, the one-size-fits-all nature of the model, the overemphasis on test scores, the stifling of innovation, and the time-consuming busywork that takes away from teaching and learning are all areas that teachers say have to change.
CEA leaders also reached out to administrators who have shared teachers’ frustrations with the current evaluation system. Superintendents and academicians across the state read the new proposed evaluation guidelines and offered input that helped shape the document.
Dr. Anne Jellison, chair of the Connecticut Association of School Administrators (CASA) and principal of the Israel Putnam Elementary School in Meriden, joined CEA leaders at today’s press conference. “I’m pleased teachers and administrators are working together to improve the system we have for evaluating teachers,” Jellison said. “After spending hundreds of hours inputting data into various software programs we’ve concluded the current system wastes too much time and too many resources.”
CEA is calling on the state Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC)—as well as the state legislature—to revise the guidelines as soon as possible. CEA will present the new evaluation guidelines to PEAC at its next meeting on February 4.
Waxenberg noted to reporters that previous CEA leadership abstained from a PEAC vote in 2012 to include mastery test scores in teachers’ evaluations.
“Everyone had a little skepticism, but we also had hope,” Waxenberg said. “After four years there’s no hope. This evaluation system is damaging to students.”
Watch video of the news conference below.