CEA wrong to claim NWEA’s MAP test is an appropriate tool for evaluating teachers.

In a recent Hartford Courant commentary piece entitled, ‘Smarter Balanced’ Test Wrong Answer For Students, Teachers, Connecticut Education Association President Sheila Cohen correctly explains that,

[The] Smarter Balanced and other high-stakes standardized tests are not useful measures of student success — and were not designed to evaluate teachers. Smarter Balanced is an invalid, unfair and unreliable test that does not measure student growth within a school year. Smarter Balanced does not assist teachers in measuring academic growth, takes away precious instruction time and resources from teaching and learning, and is not developmentally and age-appropriate for students.

Teachers, administrators and parents want an evaluation system that develops and sustains high-quality teaching and provides teachers with more time to collaborate on best practices that result in a better outcome for all students.

But then, in a bizarre move that appears to be yet another attempt to acquiesce to Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman’s ongoing education reform and anti-teacher agenda, the leader of the CEA claims that although the state should not use the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC test as part of the state’s teacher evaluation program, it is okay to use the NWEA’s MAP standardized test as a teacher evaluation tool.

The CEA’s President notes,

Teachers are evaluated appropriately by measurable results using:

  • Standardized progress monitoring tests like NWEA or STAR.

  • Progress on student performance rubrics tied to external standards in their evaluations.

  • District- and department-designed common assessments

When developed correctly, student performance rubrics and district and department designed common assessments can be useful tools when it comes to evaluating and improving teacher performance.

However, standardized tests like the SBAC or NWEA’s MAP are inherently unfair and inappropriate for use as part of a teacher evaluation system.  Period.  End of Story.

Education Advocate and columnist, Wendy Lecker, addressed this very point when she recently published, Connecticut – A failed application of standardized tests by Wendy Lecker.

One of the most damaging practices in education policy, in Connecticut and nationwide, is the misuse of standardized tests for purposes for which they were never designed. Standardized tests are being used to measure things they cannot measure, like school quality and teacher effectiveness, with deleterious results; such as massive school closures, which destabilize children and communities, and the current troubling shortage of students willing to enter the teaching profession.

Connecticut policy makers engage in this irresponsible practice constantly. They jumped on the bandwagon to adopt the SBAC as the statewide accountability test, despite the complete lack of evidence that it the SBAC can support reliable or valid inferences about student performance, let alone school quality or teacher effectiveness. After abandoning the SBAC for 11th graders, our leaders hastily approved the mandated use of the SAT for accountability purposes, despite, again, the absence of evidence that the SAT is either aligned with Connecticut graduation requirements or valid or reliable for use a test to measure student performance, school quality or teacher effectiveness.

Connecticut’s political leaders also blindly adopted the use of standardized tests in teacher evaluations in 2012, despite the evidence, even then, that standardized tests are inappropriate for this use. Since that time, every reputable statistical and educational research organization has repudiated this invalid practice; because a mountain of evidence proves that standardized tests cannot be validly or reliably used to rate teachers.

If only our leaders would examine evidence before adopting a policy, our state would not only save millions of dollars, but it would guide education policy in a direction that is good for students and teachers. Engaging in thoughtful educational policymaking requires a more nuanced understanding of what happens and should happen in schools. It demands an acceptance that in this very human endeavor, objective measures are not always possible and even when they can be applied, they can only measure a fraction what we want schools to accomplish.

As for the claim that the NWEA MAP (“MAP”) is a valid teacher evaluation tool, Wendy Lecker explains,

The MAP test is a standardized tests some districts use to measure progress during the year. In other words, it is used to measure students, not teachers. Some teachers find the MAP test helpful, although a study from the national Institute of Educational Sciences found that the MAP test has no impact on student achievement.

There is only one study on the use of the MAP for teacher evaluation. An urban Arizona district interested in using the MAP for teacher evaluation engaged a well-known expert, Professor Audrey Amrein Beardsley, and her team, to determine whether this use of the MAP would be valid. Unlike Connecticut officials, these Arizona district officials wanted to be sure of its validity before imposing it on their teachers. Thus, they requested the study before beginning implementation.

The MAP test is closely aligned with the Arizona state test. However, despite the close alignment, the study revealed that the MAP test is unreliable for use in teacher evaluation. Consequently, the district decided against this use of the MAP.

The study’s authors stressed that measuring “growth” is not as simple as policy makers think it is; and “it is certainly unwise for states or school districts to simply take haphazard or commonsense approaches to measure growth. While tempting, this is professionally and (as evidenced in this study) empirically misguided.”

The truth is that the NWEA’s MAP standardized test is just as inappropriate a tool to evaluate teachers as is the SBAC and the unions that represent teachers have a fundamental obligation to ensure that public policy makers understand what are and what are not valid techniques for determining how well an individual teacher is doing in the classroom.

The CEA’s latest move to condemn the SBAC but endorse the MAP is an uncomfortable reminder that, over the past six years, teachers and other public employees have watched as their union leaders have engaged in an almost schizophrenic approach when it comes to dealing with Governor Malloy’s bully, while standing up for their members.

Wanting to be perceived as “insiders” for the purpose of “getting into the rooms of power,” some union leaders have consistently dismissed or tried to explain away Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman’s ongoing anti-teacher, anti-public employee agenda.

On the other hand, recognizing that their membership is getting angrier and angrier and that the Malloy/Wyman agenda is undermining public education, public services and is translating into public employee layoffs, some of these same unions have taken to running television advertisements urging citizens to stand up for the public servants who educate our children, provide critically important support for those in need and ensure that government programs are available to the people of Connecticut.

The CEA’s initial approach to the teacher evaluation issue was a case study in the strategy of trying to get-along to go-along.  But, after failing to successfully fight off Malloy’s inappropriate and unfair teacher evaluation initiative, the union changed course this past January.

As the January 5, 2016 Wait What? post,  4 years late[r] – The Connecticut Education Association may finally be standing up against Malloy and Wyman on their teacher evaluation disaster, reported,

According to a press advisory issued earlier today, the Connecticut Education Association will hold a press conference at 11am at the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, January 7, 2016 to call on Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly to “join with the majority of states in the U.S. that have replaced the federally-sponsored SBAC or PARCC tests with better, more authentic and effective assessment programs.”

If the announcement is as impressive as suggested, it would mean that the leadership of Connecticut’s teacher unions have finally moved 180 degrees from the position they held on January 25, 2012 when the CEA and AFT joined with the other members of Governor Malloy’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) to approve the so-called “teacher evaluation framework” that inappropriately and unfairly mandates that student’s standardized test scores be a major factor in the teacher evaluation process.

In addition to reversing their position on the SBAC test, the CEA and AFT-CT have been working extremely hard to get the Connecticut General Assembly to pass Senate Bill 380 which would prohibit the state from using the results from the Connecticut’s Mastery Testing program in the state’s teacher evaluation program – a proposal that Malloy and his education reform allies strongly oppose.

And yet, as the CEA seriously – and finally – engages on this vital issue, along comes the claim that the NWEA MAP test is a valid mechanism for evaluating teachers – a claim that may please Governor Malloy and his anti-teacher friends but is absolutely and completely out of line with the academic evidence and good public policy.

Connecticut can and should have a strong and effective teacher evaluation system, but using standardized test results to evaluate teachers has no place in such a system.

It does a tremendous disservice for the CEA to suggest otherwise.

Connecticut Teacher Union perfects the concept of Sleeping with the Enemy

Enough is Enough!

Evaluating Teachers using the results of the unfair, discriminatory and inappropriate Common Core SBAC test violates the most fundamental precepts of an egalitarian society.

But alas, in a blog post today, the Connecticut Education Association provided its members with a link to, “Resources to Support Educator Evaluation Committees.”

Rather than telling every CEA affiliate and member to BOYCOTT any and all teacher evaluation activities until Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy agrees to decouple teacher evaluations from the unfair, discriminatory and inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test results, the Connecticut Education Association tells their members to access a PowerPoint Presentation that explains how to how to develop a plan that, “aligns with the evaluation guidelines’ requirements.”

But the sad reality is that as a result of Governor Malloy’s corporate education reform industry initiative, Connecticut’s existing teacher evaluation process includes a mandate that 22.5% of a teacher’s evaluation be based on the results of what the teacher’s students get on the Common Core SBAC test (and at least one other standardized tests).

This absurd, unfair and ignorant policy is state law despite the fact that every academic study has shown that standardized test scores are driven primarily by poverty, language barriers and the impact of students with special education challenges…all factors for beyond the control of Connecticut’s classroom teachers.

No union – in any state – should be assisting with the development of teacher evaluation programs that include the use of Common Core standardized test results.

Evaluating teachers using the results of the Common Core SBAC test is not only intellectually dishonest but morally reprehensible.

It is not only unfair to teachers, but to the students and parents of Connecticut because it will push away the best teachers from the most challenging classrooms.

In fact, the net effect of Governor Malloy’s unethical teacher evaluation system is that teachers who have the courage, conviction and principles to serve students who live in poverty, who face English Language barriers or wo need special education services will be disproportionately punished for devoting their professional lives to educating our society’s most vulnerable children.

To reiterate – To be clear – To be blunt – Evaluating Teachers using the results of the unfair, discriminatory and inappropriate Common Core SBAC test violates the most fundamental precepts of an egalitarian society and is nothing short of being UnAmerican.

But overlooking that “minor” issue, here is what the CEA is promoting;

Take a look and then tell your student’s teacher – they deserve better!

Resources to Support Educator Evaluation Committees

Professional Development and Evaluation Committees (PDEC) are beginning to review and revise teacher evaluation plans for next year, and CEA is offering resources to support the committees in their work.

New resources available at CEA.org are as follows.

1. Teacher Evaluation Plan Review and Revision: What should your PDEC do? This PowerPoint presentation outlines five basic steps for PDECs to use when reviewing their plans. It will help committees discover what’s working well, what’s challenging, and how the plan aligns with the evaluation guidelines’ requirements.

2. Teacher Evaluation Plan Review and Revision: What should your PDEC discuss? This section of the website contains several documents pertaining to specific evaluation components and processes for the PDEC to discuss.

Find these documents and more on the CEA website here.

Here is one of the odd things about teachers, unions and democracy

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and eliminating collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest school districts.  His corporate education reform legislation is widely recognized as the most anti-teacher piece of legislation ever introduced by a Democratic governor.

Yet, the American Federation of Teachers (Connecticut chapter) endorsed Malloy without allowing his challengers to fill out a questionnaire, interview with the AFT Political Action Committee or address the AFT Executive Committee.

By comparison, the Connecticut Education Association held a candidate forum today, allowing teacher attendees to cast an “advisory” ballot that the CEA leadership will take into consideration when they decide whom to endorse in the coming weeks.

However, according to the latest round of campaign finance reports, in addition to the $6.2 million that Connecticut taxpayers gave to pay for Governor Malloy’s re-election campaign via Connecticut’s Public Financing Program;

  • The American Federation of Teachers has used union dues to donate $10,000 to Malloy’s campaign via the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee and $250,000 to support Malloy through the new Political Action Committee, Connecticut Forward PAC, which was created by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).  The Democratic Governors Association also donated $1.25 million to the Connecticut Forward PAC.

And who are among the larger donors to the Democratic Governors Association?

  • The National Education Association’s Fund for Children’s Public Education!  The same group has also donated $5,000 in to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee to help with Governor Malloy’s re-election.

The CEA hasn’t even endorsed a candidate and NEA is spending money (donated by teachers to their Political Action Committee) in Connecticut to support the nation’s leading anti-teacher Democratic governor.

It is Ironic, to say the least, that Malloy’s campaign has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from teachers when Malloy has earned the title as the most anti-teacher Democratic governor in the nation.

It makes one wonder – doesn’t it?

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

Malloy can’t contain himself, uses speech to criticize lobbying effort by teachers and education unions…

As readers are aware, Governor Dannel Malloy traveled to Washington D.C. yesterday to speak to the right-wing, neoconservative American Enterprise Institute.  His speech was entitled, “School reform dos and don’ts: Lessons from Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy.”

As originally proposed, Malloy’s “education reform” initiative was the most anti-teacher, anti-union education reform legislation proposed by any Democratic governor in the nation.  Even after the proposal was modified by the Connecticut General Assembly is still held out as a prime example of the corporate education reform industry’s obsession with more standardized testing and inappropriate teacher evaluation programs that utilize standardized test results.

What as most noteworthy about the Malloy’s speech to the American Enterprise Institute was that while taking full credit for the legislation he tried to re-position himself for the 2014 gubernatorial election by praising teachers rather than playing his traditional role of criticizing and demeaning them.

As the CT Mirror reported yesterday, in his speech to the American Enterprise Institute, “the governor acknowledged that he could have been more delicate when introducing his proposals…’I’ve probably used the wrong language more than once. I know I have,’ he said, routinely pointing out how important teacher buy-in is to the success of the initiative.”

Apparently his remarks were supposed to appease teachers who might still be upset that in Malloy’s major education speech in 2012, he called for doing away with tenure while saying, “In today’s (public education) system, basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years. Do that, and tenure is yours.”

Malloy infamously added, later that year, his observation that he didn’t mind teaching to the test as long as the test scores went up.”

But despite a carefully written script yesterday, Malloy’s real personality and opinions couldn’t stay hidden for long.

During the question and answer period following Malloy’s talk, Jennifer Alexander, the CEO of ConnCAN and co-founder of A Better Connecticut, the corporate education reform lobbying group, tossed Malloy a soft-ball question about the town meetings Malloy held around the state to promote his education reform initiative in 2012.

Readers will recall that A Better Connecticut, ConnCAN and other corporate education industry organizations have spent a record $6 million and counting lobbying in support of Malloy’s education reform initiative to date, including more than $2 million in television advertisements thanking Malloy for his “leadership.”

In response to a question from ConnCAN’s CEO, Malloy talked about how people were mad and how he stood up to the angry teachers and led the way forward for the General Assembly.

Malloy summarized the situation saying he was needed because “folks [were] spending a lot of money to try and defeat an organized effort at school reform….”

It was another great truly another great Dannel Malloy moment.

When teachers, parents and public school advocates came out to public meetings to speak out on behalf of public education, Malloy says that they were part of a group of “folks” who were “spending a lot of money to try and defeat” education reform.

But there he was – speaking at the ultra-right wing American Enterprise Institute and happily taking a question from the paid lobbyist whose organization has led the most expensive lobbying campaign in state history.

Tucked into the safety of a right-wing “think tank,” the Malloy we have come to know couldn’t resist the opportunity to attack teachers and their unions while accepting the accolades of the corporate education reform industry.

That said, not everyone who watched Malloy’s performance came away with the same reaction.

While you can read my take on the Malloy speech by reading the Wait, What? post entitled “Malloy tells right-wing American Enterprise Institute he is the “education governor”, you may also want to read what the Connecticut Education Association posted to their blog yesterday.

While both blogs report on Malloy’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute, the different interpretations of same event is rather extraordinary.

From the 12/2/2013 CEA Blog: Malloy on Teachers & School Reform

Governor Dannel P. Malloy told a national audience today that teacher concerns about the rapid pace of change in Connecticut public education are real, adding that “we’re going to get through it.”

The governor called teachers “good, hard-working people.” Malloy said, “I probably used the wrong language more than once. I know I have. It’s not because I don’t appreciate what teachers do.”

Malloy’s comments came in an interview this afternoon at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

Malloy talked about the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that are being implemented and new CCSS tests—so-called Smarter Balanced Assessments that could be linked to teacher evaluations down the road. According to Malloy, teachers are ready, but that doesn’t mean they are not scared. “Far better a carrot than a stick,” he said.

Apparently referring to Connecticut’s new teacher evaluation system, Malloy said “the vast majority of Connecticut teachers are doing a great job,” and they will be recognized for this. Malloy said he’s taken steps to make the magnitude of education reform easier on public schools. Connecticut school districts have flexibility on two fronts: administering just one test to students during this school year—the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessments or the CMT and CAPT—and giving local school districts the power to decide whether or not to include that test data in teachers’ evaluations.

Malloy took questions from an AEI audience, including one about the legislative battle over Connecticut school reform. Referring to his role, he made a number of comments, including that somebody had to be the leader, somebody had to bring the discussion to communities, and that somebody had to emphasize we needed to change direction in public education.

Malloy said “I had to fly in the face of traditional Democratic constituencies.” He added that reform cannot be accomplished top down. He called it a combination of leadership, getting buy-in, and staying at it year after year.

You can see Malloy’s performance at the American Enterprise Institute here:  http://www.aei.org/events/2013/12/02/school-reform-dos-and-donts-lessons-from-connecticut-governor-dannel-malloy/