We are very encouraged by the guidelines that were approved by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) this week. PEAC was created to collaborate with the State Board of Education (SBE) in establishing statewide guidelines for the evaluation of educators. They have been meeting for two years and they finally agreed – unanimously – on the following framework:
- Indicators of student learning will count as 45% of the evaluation – half of which will be informed by standardized testing or another valid assessment that measures student learning;
- Teacher performance and professional practice will count as 40% of the evaluation;
- Professional activities will count as 10%; and
- Feedback from parents, students and peers will count as 5%
Here’s what we hope will come of the new evaluation guidelines and how we envision maximizing upon an evaluation model to ensure that we have the best and most effective educators in our schools.
As we have stated in our recently released legislative priorities, Connecticut’s evaluation model should rate teachers’ “effectiveness” in helping students to learn, and should make clear which teachers are effective, and which are ineffective. The new evaluation system should provide teachers with improved professional development based on the teachers’ individual needs.
And it should form the basis for teacher employment and retention policies. For example, once we have a standardized system that tells us which teachers are effective and which are ineffective, there should be no “last-in-first-out” policy; rather, policies should shift to protect students instead of ineffective adults. This means that a teacher who is consistently evaluated as ineffective and does not demonstrate adequate improvement, should not remain in the teaching profession.
On the other hand, the evaluation model that we envision will allow our teachers who receive annual, consecutive “effective” ratings to earn and retain the status of tenure. For these teachers who have proven themselves to be amongst our best, we hope tenured status will secure them an extra year to improve if they later receive an ineffective rating. Because these teachers will have already demonstrated their effectiveness as teachers, we should help them to get back on track.
And, if we’re going to start holding teachers to higher standards, in exchange for greater accountability, we think teachers deserve a career ladder that is based on effectiveness. We believe that if your evaluations show that you consistently do an outstanding job, you deserve to be promoted up a career ladder!
Similarly, we think teachers should have opportunities for higher compensation. That means that our most effective teachers should be rewarded with higher pay. Currently, merit pay in Connecticut is severely constricted by collective bargaining agreements. This needs to change. We believe that teachers who are consistently evaluated as effective or highly effective deserve to be rewarded for their work, just like professionals in other fields who are acknowledged with bonuses for excellent work.
Finally, we at CCER believe that teachers are not the only ones who need to be held to higher standards and provided with greater professional development and support. We would also like to see greater accountability exchanged for greater autonomy at the principal and superintendent level. As with teachers, we believe that principal evaluations should similarly emphasize student academic growth and overall performance, with compensation and retention based largely on these factors. In exchange, we want to give principals authority over which teachers are placed in their schools and superintendents authority over who is hired to their districts.
As the details for the evaluation system are finalized and PEAC’s guidelines go before the State Board of Education for approval, we hope the final evaluation system places a significant emphasis on the effectiveness of our educators, and that it can serve as the basis for redesigned educator employment, compensation, professional development, retention and dismissal procedures. We believe that Connecticut’s students deserve nothing less than excellent teachers and school leaders.