Thursday afternoon while researching information on the state school board’s recent decision to permanently remove annual mastery exam data from teacher evaluations, I stumbled upon a Channel 12 News segment entitled: “State teachers to no longer be rated on test scores.”
*Spoiler Alert:* That’s not a factual statement.
State teachers have never been rated based on testing since for the past three years the requirement of including testing data was pushed back.
While I’m hesitant to throw News 12 under the bus, blaming this one on the “pressures of the 24-hour-news cycle” rings hollow. The inaccuracies in the report are particularly unsettling when you consider how many people will only learn about this topic through television news outlets.
To add insult to injury, the title wasn’t even the most egregious inaccuracy. During the segment, one of the reporters said: “if this had gone through, teachers could potentially lose their jobs if the students didn’t pass the state’s sometimes controversial standardize test.“
No. That’s not at all how it was going to work.
The evaluation system was never designed to take into account a singular test score, nor whether or not students “passed.” According to the State Department of Education’s Educator Evaluation Guidelines for 2015, 22.5 percent of teachers evaluation was supposed to be based on student growth indicators, “determined through the comparison of data across assessments administered over time.”
From the 2015 Educator Evaluation Guidelines
In other words: The state calculates students growth based on three successive years of testing data for a particular student. Pass or fail doesn’t matter, the point was determining if students made progress over the course of a year.
Why Is This Important?
So, how did this happen? How did a major news source get it so very wrong?
One thing that popped out about the story: Their sole source was a teacher union representative.
Whether you agree or not with the state BOE’s decision on Wednesday, the teachers union has a vested interest in keeping evaluations watered-down. It’s irresponsible for a traditional news outlet to use, Rob Traber, the Bridgeport Education Association President as your only source.
Think about it this way; if a large portion of Connecticut residents are only getting information from people with a vested interest in keeping the system the way it is, it’s no wonder misinformation is rampant.
I’m not saying that the state BOE might have changed their vote had myths been dispelled by more accurate reporting, but at the very least, these kinds of stories take away residents’ power to make their own mind up about how the state should evaluate teachers.