On Friday afternoon, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Education Committee voted 23-10 to push forward Senate Bill 380, which if passed, would ban the use of state assessments in teacher evaluations, including for schools currently using the assessment data. That would mean schools districts like New Haven, which has been using state exam data in evaluations since 2009, would be forced to backtrack.
This bill flies in the face of what parents, school leaders, officials at the State Department of Education and even teachers have asked for.
In fact, the two teachers unions are just about the only stakeholder groups that support the permanent delinking of state assessments with teacher evaluations.
A whole bunch of groups that normally don’t agree on anything, agreed this bill is a terrible idea. The Connecticut PTA, the Urban League of Southern Connecticut, The Connecticut Association of Schools, the Connecticut Associations of School Superintendents, and several others, all came together to oppose this bill.
Even the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC), a council made up of stakeholders established by the education committee for the express purpose of advising them on teacher evaluations, advised against SB 380.
“The Connecticut Legislature established the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council to thoughtfully consider how we could provide our educators with effective annual evaluations,” said Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition for Education Reform.
“Today, rather than allowing this group of important stakeholders to manage the complex process of evaluating educators, the Education Committee has begun to unwind that progress by supporting a prohibition.”
The Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell also strongly opposes SB 380, calling it “ill-advised” in her testimony to the education committee.
“This is not in the best interests of children,” said Wentzel in a statement sent to the New Haven Register. “Our kids deserve the best possible teachers, and tests are a tool to enhance student growth and teacher professional growth.”
There’s a reason so many groups have come out against SB 380. This bill halts progress, and goes against mountains of research which shows that the number one factor in a child’s education is teacher quality.
Instead of backtracking, the state legislature should be doing everything in their power to make sure that every child in Connecticut receives a quality education. That’s not happening right now and this bill only serves to ensure that the achievement gap will persist.
Here’s hoping that when this bill comes up for vote in the state senate and house, the rest of the legislature is not as tone deaf to the needs of children as the Education Committee.
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