State Senator Michael Johnston, architect of Colorado’s failed, punitive teacher evaluation law, may run for governor.

 

Johnston, an alumnus of Teach for America, is a devout believer in standardized testing. His law, passed over the objection of the state’s teachers, makes test scores 50% of teacher evaluations.

 

I happened to be in Denver the day that his bill came to a vote. We were scheduled to debate at lunch time,  but young Senator Johnston showed up after I finished speaking. I got to hear him, but he never heard me. He told the audience that his bill would produce great teachers, great principals, great schools. All by basing evaluations on test scores.

 

Senator Johnston’s fantabulous claim never came true. Six years after passage of his law, Colorado has the harshest teacher evaluation statute in the nation and apparently no will to change it.

 

What are the results? When measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Colorado is in stagnation since passage of Senate Bill 191. Scores in fourth and eighth grade math and English are flat or have declined. None have gone up.

 

His greatest achievement was a bust. Since its passage, the theory that teachers can be evaluated by the test scores of their students has repeatedly been debunked by scholarly associations like the American Statistical Association, but Mr. Johnston is unable or unwilling to admit his ruinous error or to take steps to repeal it.