HARTFORD, Conn. – Student achievement will play a dramatically larger role in evaluating teachers across Connecticut under new guidelines approved by a panel that represents teachers, school administrators and public school boards.
The state’s 10-member Performance Evaluation Advisory Council agreed this week on a new teacher evaluation process after two years of contentious meetings over how much emphasis should be placed on student performance.
“Connecticut has taken a major step toward a meaningful teacher evaluation system. This is a milestone in what I expect will continue to be a momentous year for education reform in Connecticut,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement.
The new guidelines are expected to become the first step in Malloy’s call for education reform in Connecticut. They are likely to be presented to the State Board of Education for approval next month.
Under the new process, 45 percent of a teacher’s evaluation would be based on student achievement, with about half of that based on standardized test scores and the other half on student projects and participation.
Forty percent of the evaluation would be based on observing teachers, and the remaining 15 percent would use feedback from students, peers and parents and on the performance level of an entire school.
The state’s largest teacher union, the Connecticut Education Association, which represents 43,000 public school teachers, supports the proposal as do many Fairfield County superintendents.
“This is an exciting step toward education reform in Connecticut because student achievement must be one of the major factors in evaluating a teacher’s work,” said Stamford Interim School Superintendent Winifred Hamilton. “What I like about the recommended evaluation is that it includes multiple factors that take into account a school’s overall performance, and makes students and parents part of the process.”
Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Susan Marks said she also agrees with holding teachers and administrators more accountable for student performance.
“I look forward to helping implement the new system and am pleased it includes student performance as a major criteria for evaluating teachers, principals and administrators,” said Marks. She presides over a district with several schools that are among the lowest performing in the state, according to the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, a New Haven-based education reform group.
That group’s CEO Patrick Riccards strongly supports the new evaluation process. “If these guidelines are approved by the State Board of Education, they will serve as an unprecedented baseline for developing smart, fair and rigorous educator evaluations in Connecticut,” said Riccards.
“Never before have we seen a commitment from the state and this group to evaluate educators’ effectiveness and include student achievement as a primary factor in that evaluation. This is a key first step to using evaluation results to inform staffing decisions of all kinds, from hiring and promotions to dismissals and tenure.”
Panel members credited new Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, the panel’s chairman, for bringing about the agreement.
"This is a major breakthrough in education reform. A few years ago there would have been disagreement about making student achievement any part of an educator’s evaluation," said Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of School Superintendents.
Robert Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, said Pryor persuaded “everyone to compromise. Now we have to work out the details of how the evaluation process will be carried out in individual school districts.”
Mary Loftus Levine, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, said in a statement, "It was a compromise by consensus, which was reached after many months of long, tough conversations. We and other members of PEAC are pleased to have developed a structure for a fair, reliable and valid evaluation system with accountability for all.”