In an effort to clear up a misunderstanding and potential obstacle to implementation concerning how students’ test results will count toward a teacher’s evaluation, the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) met on Thursday, May 31, 2012. Convening at the State Office Building, members discussed required parameters including how much weight student testing will carry in the outcome of the evaluation.

Several months ago, all members of PEAC agreed that 45% of a teacher’s evaluation would be based on student performance, with 22.5% of the 45% on standardized test scores, such as CMT’s and CAPT tests.  Clarification of the other 22.5% has been in question, resulting in many discussions over the last couple of weeks and the formation of a consensus plan at  last week’s PEAC meeting. Some members of PEAC felt that the portion in question allowed districts to include standardized testing if they wished, while others believed it required “other measures” of a student’s performance. In an effort to resolve the situation, Commissioner Pryor made a proposal at the May 31 meeting that would allow districts, administrators and teachers to come to agreement, within specific parameters, on what can be part of the 22.5% in dispute.

The parameters proposed by the Commissioner would allow a maximum of one standardized test and a minimum of one measure that is not a standardized test.  School administrators and teachers would make this determination by mutual consent with the actual weight of each being determined by the district. If principals and teachers do not reach agreement on these measures, the state will impose mediation guidelines for resolving these disputes. At the end of the day, the group reached a decision, but some level of skepticism remained. The CT Education Association (CEA) abstained from approval, but still made it clear that they were not blocking the proposal.   The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), while expressing concerns, approved the measure.  The CT Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) voiced the belief that teachers and administrators should be able to determine what measures of student performance comprise the 22.5%, including tests when appropriate. They and other stakeholders ultimately agreed to support the pilot in moving forward, despite their concerns, once given assurances that adjustments will be made after the completion of the pilot year.

Earlier this year, PEAC unanimously passed guidelines and performance categories for teacher and principal evaluation systems that are significantly informed by student performance outcomes. Codified in regulation by a similarly unanimous vote by the State Board of Education, statewide implementation is ultimately required. Additionally, Senate Bill 458 has written this requirement into state education law by requiring the Commissioner of Education to initiate implementation of the teacher and principal evaluation system with a pilot program in 10 self-nominated school districts in the upcoming school year, with statewide implementation to follow.  Today, Governor Malloy announced the 10 districts selected to participate in this initial implementation effort. As a foundational piece of the framework for implementing Connecticut’s comprehensive education reform bill, all eyes are on the work produced by PEAC and implemented in these districts.