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Mastery Test Scores Eliminated From Teacher Evaluations

National Teacher of the Year and Waterbury educator Jahana Hayes spoke in favor of a recommendation that the State Board of Education approved that prohibits mastery exams from being used in the calculation of teachers’ summative ratings.

The State Board of Education (SBOE) showed its commitment to students and teachers today by voting to remove state mastery test results from teacher evaluations.

“This is a big victory for students, teachers, and public education,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “The voices and expertise of teachers were heard and addressed by policymakers who did the right thing by putting the focus back where it belongs: on teaching, learning, and student achievement.”

The SBOE voted to approve new guidelines that clearly define how mastery tests can and cannot be used. The Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) recommended the new guidelines, which say state mastery test results can be used to inform goal setting and professional learning for educators, as appropriate, but cannot be used as a measure of goal attainment or in the calculation of the summative rating for an educator.

National Teacher of the Year and Waterbury educator Jahana Hayes told the SBOE members that the state mastery exam can never accurately reflect her work in the classroom.

“I didn’t become the National Teacher of the Year because I worked hard to teach to a test,” she said.

Bloomfield teacher and local Association President Susan Sumberg said her district has an “extremely successful teacher evaluation system,” that does not link mastery test scores to teacher evaluations. She said the plan, which has been working well for four years, puts students first and is meaningful and purposeful to everyone involved.

Bloomfield teacher Susan Sumberg told the State Board of Education that her district’s evaluation system has been very successful without a link to state mastery test scores.

“Linking any portion of our teacher evaluation plan to mastery test scores could well jeopardize the success we have worked so hard to achieve,” she told the SBOE members.

Sumberg and Hayes were among a half-dozen teachers who, during the public comment portion of the meeting, spoke to board members in support of the new guidelines.

“Members of PEAC have engaged in rich dialogue, debate, and discussions over the past five years to put everything in perspective and create this positive action,” added Cohen.

The requirement that test scores be used in teacher evaluations was set to take effect in the 2017-18 school year.

Cohen concluded, “We feel confident that these new guidelines will have positive outcomes for everyone—students, teachers, and administrators—and will allow us to continue to move forward to improve the educational opportunities for all public school students in Connecticut.”

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