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CEA, Parents, and Educators Speak Out About Teacher Evaluation

CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine, parents, and teachers told members of the State Board of Education today that they are concerned about the potential overreliance on standardized test scores in teacher evaluations.

“Teachers are very concerned about the direction and process that appears to be evolving on the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC), and we would like the Board to consider our concerns before adopting evaluation guidelines and piloting them,” said Loftus Levine. Read her testimony here.

Background

In the teacher evaluation framework agreed to by PEAC, 45% of a teacher’s evaluation would be made up of multiple indicators of student academic growth and development. CEA and other groups shared an understanding that half of that, 22.5%, would include standardized test scores and the “other” 22.5% would not include standardized test scores.

At a meeting May 31, PEAC decided the following, against CEA’s strong objections and opposition. While 22.5% of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on state standardized tests (CMT and CAPT) – or other standardized tests for non-tested subjects and grades – the “other” 22.5% was (and still is) in dispute. CEA believes this “other” 22.5% should include non-standardized multiple indicators of student academic growth. For the “other” 22.5% the council decided to allow one standardized test and a minimum of one other indicator, with mutual consent between the teacher and evaluator, subject to a dispute resolution mechanism. Teachers and evaluators will meet to establish student learning objectives within the “other” 22.5%, according to the PEAC decision.

Details on deep concerns raised before State Board

Parents and educators urged board members today to take a stand against the improper and damaging overuse of standardized tests and move in the right direction for children.

Wendy Lecker, a mother of three children in the Stamford Public Schools, says she wants her children, and all children, to have the best teachers possible, and that’s why she strongly opposes using standardized test scores in any part of a teacher’s evaluation.

“The research is clear that basing evaluations on test scores results in a 40-50% misclassification rate,” said Lecker. “The irony is that these tests do nothing for children’s achievement.”

The National Research Council has concluded that 10 years of test based accountability has done next to nothing to improve student achievement.

Mary Gallucci, a former educator and parent from Windham, said being a good or excellent test taker does not translate into being a successful student who can think and solve problems creatively, as is demanded in most universities, vocational schools, and careers.

“Test preparation and drilling is not learning, and many children tune it out after a while,” she said. “Getting high scores on standardized tests reveals very little about a person’s intelligence, which is multi-faceted. I condemn in the strongest language possible reforms based on standardized test results and evaluations for teachers that include these results because they deny the creativity and humanity of both the child and the teacher.”

Darcy Hicks, a parent and former teacher from Westport, left her job as a teacher because she felt the time she needed to actually teach was squeezed out little by little each year.

“Experimental remedies were dropped into my lap and into the laps of my students. These distractions never did anything to help the learning in my classroom, in fact, they kept us from engaging in a deeper active learning that is necessary for success,” she said.

CEA provided the Board with research and expert views showing that using test scores to evaluate teachers does not improve student performance.

“Overreliance on testing has been a failure for our students. We ask the Board to not make the same mistake when establishing a fair, reliable, and valid teacher evaluation system and state model for the pilots,” said Loftus Levine.

PEAC’s deadline for submitting recommendations to the State Board of Education is July 1. The Board has scheduled a special meeting to discuss the PEAC recommendations on June 27 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

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