Raising their voices today before an advisory committee to the state Board of Education and speaking up at a legislative public hearing on Monday, teachers are making it clear that the student assessments that count in their evaluations are not a subject that should be “kicked down the road” indefinitely by Connecticut policymakers.
CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “We are operating under a delay in linking almost one-quarter of a teacher’s evaluation to state mastery examination scores (SBAC). State education officials enacted that delay two years ago. Indications today are that they want yet another delay—a stalling tactic that diverts attention from the all-important job of educating our children.”
Cohen continued, “The time is now for quick and decisive action on the SBAC linkage to evaluations. There is no scientific or research-based evidence that such a link is valid, reliable, or fair for the purpose of teacher evaluation. No vendors of mastery examination tests claim their test is a valid measure of teacher performance.”
Growing numbers of teachers—from every corner of the state—are contacting members of the legislature’s Education Committee and urging them to adopt Senate Bill 380, an Act Concerning the Exclusion of Student Performance on the Mastery Examination from Teacher Evaluations. Please contact your legislator on this issue if he or she is a member of the Education Committee. (Click here for a list of Education Committee members. Click here to look up your legislators and find their contact information.)
Today the forum for discussion of teacher evaluation was a meeting of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC). Members of the group represent teachers, administrators, superintendents, school boards, and higher education. Today they tried to address the statewide confusion over what must be included in teacher evaluations next year, voting not to require (but to still allow) districts to use SBAC scores in teacher evaluations for the 2016-17 school year. Since PEAC is advisory to the state Board of Education, the board must vote on the PEAC recommendation at its meeting on April 6.
CEA leaders today opposed that delay—holding steadfast to their position, which is gaining traction at the state legislature, that an outright prohibition on the use of SBAC scores is the only fair and reasonable solution. “Plain and simple,” said CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, “SBAC was not designed to evaluate teachers—making its use in teacher evaluation invalid, unreliable, and unfair.” Waxenberg added that linking SBAC to teacher evaluation is unfair to teachers who teach English language learners and special needs students. Also, the link is punitive to teachers who work in schools that serve high-poverty communities, and would provoke an exodus of minority and experienced teachers from urban districts.
Recent research in Maryland, Illinois, and at the National Center for Education Statistics, has shown that standardized tests create a significant technology gap for students in high-poverty schools—students receive lower scores on computer-based tests than they would using pencil and paper. Coupling unreliable and discriminatory test scores to teacher evaluations is not valid, and punishes dedicated teachers in the schools where they are needed most.
“The primary purpose of teacher evaluation is to support teachers’ growth and development so that they in turn are better able to help their students’ succeed,” Cohen said. “Including SBAC scores in teachers’ evaluations in no way helps improve student learning. That is what the research clearly and indisputably shows. To ignore that is to ignore what is best for our public schools and the future of our state.”
Click here to read the CEA report summarizing research about the use of high-stakes test scores in teacher evaluations.
At its meeting today, PEAC also:
- Agreed that districts that don’t want to make substantial changes to their evaluation plans for next year will not be required to resubmit their plans to the state Department of Education.
- Decided to conduct surveys of local Professional Development and Evaluation Committee (PDEC) members and teachers to get feedback on how the PDEC process is working and review the findings at the next PEAC meeting.