Evaluation system gets an ‘F’ from teachers

Students in class (Photo: Shutterstock)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Too much testing and not enough learning. That’s the conclusion of the state’s largest teachers union and school administrators. Three years after a new system of evaluating teacher performance with the goal of more learning for kids, the plan is getting a failing grade from teachers and principals.

The ‘Connecticut Education Association’ says that Connecticut’s schools have “become pressure cookers where education is driven and distorted by performance on unreliable standardized tests instead of classroom work and achievement.”

Starting in the fall of 2012, Connecticut began a new system for evaluating teacher performance. A system where a large part of the decision would be based on how kids did on a series of tests. After three full school years, the state’s largest teacher union says the system is a bust.

“All we care about is what that test score looks like, it’s nonsense and we have to get rid of it in the state of Connecticut,” said CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg.  The chair of the Conn. Association of School Administrators, Dr. Anne Jellison, who is also the principal of a school in Meriden, added, “[We’re] too focused on counter-productive goals tied to unreliable standardized test scores.”

The union says surveys of teachers and principals across the state say that teachers are spending weeks and weeks preparing kids to take the tests instead of real classroom learning time because teachers know that their jobs could be on the line.

Said Waxenberg, ” It’s been recognized as such in Washington and those that say ‘stay the course in Connecticut,’ remind me of the captain of the ‘Titanic’…look what happened with him.”

And school administrators appear to be agreeing with the teachers; that the emphasis on test preparation, and other requirements, are actually doing more harm than good. “After spending hundreds of hours in putting data into various software programs, we’ve concluded that the current system wastes too much time and too many resources,” added Jellison.

CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “Precious school time, time that should be focused on children, is being lost to unnecessary complexity and bureaucratic busywork demanded by the new system.”

The teachers and administrators say they have put together a simpler system that still includes testing, but is not a ‘one size fits all’ type program giving more flexibility to school systems. The committee that decides on the next moves on this system will be meeting in Hartford next week.

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