Targeting What Students Need for Academic Growth Through Quality Teacher Evaluation



Connecticut Education Association News Release

Targeting What Students Need for Academic Growth Through Quality Teacher Evaluation

March 6, 2014

A teacher evaluation initiative, studied in new research being released today, offers a teacher evaluation alternative to using unreliable standardized test scores to evaluate students and teachers—an alternative that holds educators more accountable and is supported by the new flexibility options for teacher evaluation, but contrasts sharply with the state model (SEED).

Seeking a better way than the state way, CEA advocates a holistic, qualitative approach that trusts educators by enabling them to set student goals for growth and assess their students' growth by using a common Quality Student Work Rubric (QSWR) as it applies to student work done over time in the subject they teach.

CEA President Sheila Cohen said, "We want to redirect teacher evaluation in Connecticut so that it is student based. We want to refocus it on what teachers do on a regular basis and how teachers assess student growth on a continuing basis. And we want to allow teachers to focus their energy on what they know matters most—planning and providing engaging instruction for their students."

At a news conference today at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, CEA released the results of a field study that bolsters that approach—one that provides countless opportunities for teachers to focus on their students rather than spend endless hours on paperwork and compliance as required by the state model. With the enormous and unreasonable demands of the state system, teachers' attention is being diverted from their students' learning needs.

No Teacher Left Behind: A Look at CEA's Alternative Approach to Educator Evaluation is a field study conducted by Daniel A. Long, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology at Wesleyan University, and Rebecca Coven, Long's former research associate. The study, conducted last year, included Hamden educators at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.


Student growth over time vs. a single standardized test score

Using student work over time as a measure of growth, and linking that to teacher evaluation, is a concept that hadn't been studied in Connecticut prior to last year. As a first step in this direction, the new study was limited in scope, but the authors had comprehensive access to current research about what works and what doesn't in teacher evaluation.

Cohen said, "Although the Hamden field study was limited in scope, the findings show promise as an important component of a robust teacher evaluation system. This is one that encourages greater teacher accountability and responsibility in the process, provides stronger accountability for student learning, promotes more collaborative discussion about teaching and learning, and provides greater trust in the accuracy of the evaluation."


Unreliable test scores

There is no evidence in research that the state model, which uses unreliable test scores to assess student growth and evaluate teachers, improves the quality of teaching in public schools. Under the approach discussed at today's news conference, the link between a teacher's student goals and use of the QSWR encourages the teacher to design instruction that more precisely targets what students need to grow academically, holds teachers more accountable, and shows growth more realistically than a single unreliable test score.

Teachers from across the state have shared concerns with CEA about the state model and how it is hindering high-quality teaching and learning. CEA is confident that its qualitative approach promotes student growth and positive changes in teacher pedagogy and practice. It also facilitates teacher autonomy, collaboration, self-reflection, interpersonal trust, and morale.

Using the growth model not only allows educators to look at student achievement in terms of their performance over the course of the entire school year, but it also allows evaluators to get a better representation of how a teacher's instruction more specifically fosters quality student work. Collecting student work and rating it using a rubric that describes the elements of high-quality work is something that many more educators can apply to their classrooms, regardless of whether they teach a class that has standardized tests.


The Connecticut Education Association represents 43,000 teachers in Connecticut.

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