What a mess in Connecticut!
Robert A. Frahm writes in the Connecticut Mirror about how teachers and principals are struggling with the state’s test-based evaluation system. Teachers waste time setting paperwork goals that are low enough to make statistical “gains.” If they don’t, they may be rated ineffective.
Every principal spends hours observing teachers—one hour each time—taking copious notes, then spending hours writing up the observations.
Connecticut, one of the two or three top scoring states in the nation on NAEP (the others are Massachusetts and New Jersey), is drowning its schools and educators in mandates and paperwork.
Why? Race to the Top says it is absolutely necessary. Connecticut didn’t win Race to the Top funding, but the state is doing what Arne Duncan believes in. Stefan Pryor, the state commissioner, loves evaluating by test scores, but that’s no surprise because he was never a teacher; he is a law school graduate and co-founder of a “no excuses” charter school chain in Connecticut that is devoted to test scores at all times. The charter chain he founded is known for its high suspension rate, its high scores, and its limited enrollment of English learners.
Researchers have shown again and again that test-based accountability is flawed, inaccurate, unstable. It doesn’t work in theory, and it has not worked in five years of experience.
The article quotes the conservative advocacy group, National Council for Teacher Quality, which applauds this discredited methodology. NCTQ is neither an accrediting body nor a research organization.
Our nation’s leading scholars and scholarly organizations have criticized test-based accountability.
In 2010, some of the nation’s most highly accomplished scholars in testing, including Robert Linn, Eva Baker, Richard Shavelson, and Lorrie Shepard, spoke out against the misuse of test scores to judge teacher quality.
The American Educational Research Association and the National Academy of Education issued a joint statement warning about VAM.
The highly esteemed National Research Council issued a report warning that test-based accountability had not succeeded and was unlikely to succeed. Marc Tucker recently described the failure of test-based accountability.
But the carefully researched views of our nation’s leading scholars were tossed aside by Arne Duncan, the Gates Foundation, and the phalanx of rightwing groups that support their agenda of demoralizing teachers, clearing out those who are veterans, and turning teaching into a short-time temp job.
The article cites New Haven as an example:
“Four years ago, New Haven schools won national attention when the district and the teachers’ union developed an evaluation system that uses test results as a factor in rating teachers. Since then, dozens of teachers have resigned or been dismissed as a result of the evaluations. Last year, 20 teachers, about 1 percent of the workforce, left the district after receiving poor evaluations.”
Four years later, can anyone say that New Haven is now the best district in Connecticut? Has the achievement gap closed? Time for another investigative report.