As reported in today’s CTMirror, it wasn’t even two hours after Governor Malloy signed the “education reform” bill into law before the three groups representing the school superintendents, principals and school boards went back on their word, claiming that the new law gave them the right to implement policies that student’s standardized test scores can account for 50 percent of a teachers evaluation rather than the 22.5 percent that was listed in the draft bill and agreed to by all of the parties last January.
I suppose we have to admit that it is really our fault for even thinking these people were committed to a collegial process to improve Connecticut’s urban schools.
But more importantly – as to the substance of the issue of linking standardized test scores to the annual evaluation of teachers…
Let me ask the question one more time.
And hopefully, this time there will be a “reformer” out there who will explain how standardized test scores are supposed to be interpreted and used as part of the teacher evaluation process?
In Meriden, where test scores are low due to poverty and language barriers, is a 5 percent improvement in the 4th grade master test in reading the same, equal to or less than a 1% improvement in Avon where test scores start out three times higher. (Putting aside the fact that the 1 percent, and maybe even the 5 percent, isn’t statistically significant enough to tell us that any movement has actually taken place).
So anyway, is the 5 percent better than the 1 percent?
Okay, let’s change the framework and talk about test results from the same town.
Let’s imagine we have two 4th grade classes. One is taught by Ms. K and the other by Mrs. R.
This year, “Ms. K” has a class of 25 students (6 of whom aren’t fluent in English and 2 have special education needs.) and “Mrs. R” has a class of 22 students (all of whom speak English but 4 of them have special education needs.)
Once again, the test results come in.
Now we can’t rate the teacher’s skill based on this year’s 4th grade class compared to last year’s 4th grade since last year’s class was a completely different set of students.
And we can’t compare the teacher’s skill based on Miss Ks 4th grade class compared to how the class did a year ago when they took the 3rd grade test because, as we know, students don’t move forward as a block from class to class. Most schools change the mix each year as the students go through the system.
And we can’t compare Ms. K’s class to Mrs. R’s class because the makeup of the classes is so different. (I.e. the number of English language learners, the number of special education students).
So obviously a 2 percent change in Ms. K’s class with her six non-English-speaking students is different from a 2 percent change in Mrs. R’s class with all English speaking students.
But yet the Governor, the Governor’s Chief Advisor, the Commissioner of Education, the “education reformers” and some media columnists have all said that teachers will finally be held accountable.
For example, the Courant’s Rick Green wrote today that “Finally, we may be able to clearly and fairly assess good teachers….a significant new evaluation program emerged that could become the legislation’s biggest achievement, if it works. Teachers must demonstrate they are effective. Regular evaluations will be based, in part, on whether students are learning.”
Actually, the bill doesn’t say that evaluations will be based on whether students are learning,it says it will be based on the results of standardized test scores.
Okay, so tell us — the way reformers talk about it — there must be a simple answer. How do the results from the standardized test scores provide information that allows us to hold the teacher accountable?