Union Wants to Decouple State Test Scores and Teacher Evaluations | Connecticut Public Radio
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Union Wants to Decouple State Test Scores and Teacher Evaluations

Jan 25, 2016

State guidelines require that almost a quarter of teacher evaluations be based on student state test scores.

The state’s largest teaching union criticized the current guidelines for teacher evaluations in Connecticut at a press conference on Monday, calling for changes to a system that the organization said puts too much emphasis on standardized test scores -- and not enough on classroom learning.

The union said there should be an end to the link between students' test scores and teachers' job performance.

Under the recently-passed federal education law, states can choose whether to link student scores to teacher evaluations.

The state’s teacher evaluation guidelines require that almost a quarter of teacher evaluations be based on student state test scores. A federal waiver has delayed the required use of test scores in evaluations.

State test scores currently don’t affect Connecticut teacher evaluations.

But according to survey results in a report, 83 percent of the 837 participating Connecticut teachers said they thought state test scores were part of their evaluations.

CEA President Sheila Cohen speaking at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
Credit Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The perception that state test scores influence teacher evaluations makes teachers more cautious and less willing to innovate, CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg said.

“People are becoming safe,” Waxenberg said. “In other words, if I know that my job is going to depend on a test score, I’m going to focus on that test score and nothing else. That’s the problem.”

Although most supporters of the idea agree that test scores alone should not be the sole means by which teachers are evaluated, they argue that viewing trends in test scores over time can be one of several important measures of teacher effectiveness.

The Connecticut Education Association will present its plan for changing teacher evaluation guidelines to the state Department of Education’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council next week.

Jackson Mitchell is an intern at WNPR. Ryan Caron King, Diane Orson, and Heather Brandon contributed to this report, which includes information from The Associated Press.