The below opinion is that of the writer and does not represent the opinion and views of Canaiden LLC, its associates and entities.
New Haven, CT - As voters across Connecticut express their desire for the state legislature and governor to continue moving forward with teacher and principal performance evaluations, the legislature’s Education Committee is considering a bill that would break the promise of great teachers and principals made to our kids less than one year ago. This bill, S.B. 1097, would delay implementation of a statewide educator evaluation system.
Last year, after receiving nearly unanimous support from the state legislature, Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed a landmark education reform law (Public Act 12-116). A key pillar of the education reform law was raising standards for educators by implementing a teacher and principal evaluation program.
The evaluation pilot program is now underway in 10 sites across Connecticut, and the educator evaluation model was recently given the go-ahead for statewide implementation, by the State Board of Education, to be phased in gradually over the next school year.
“Providing regular feedback and support, based in part on student outcomes, is a core responsibility of our schools and districts,” said Jennifer Alexander, the Acting CEO for the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN). “The state’s educator evaluation program is a fundamental step needed to provide feedback and support to further empower high-performing teachers and principals, make certain that low-performing teachers get the help they need, and allow for swift dismissal of those who consistently fail to improve.”
Connecticut voters support ensuring these educator evaluation efforts move forward. In a recent Global Strategy Group poll of more than 600 Connecticut voters, 84 percent of respondents said that the governor and state legislature should make “reforming teacher tenure to give schools more freedom to remove teachers who don’t perform well from the classroom” a priority this year, and 73 percent of respondents said that “evaluating teachers based on class performance” should be a priority this year.
But, if enacted, S.B. 1097 would jeopardize progress made for our kids by:
Removing Implementation Authority from Boards of Education: S.B. 1097 removes implementation authority from boards of education and gives it to a “professional development and evaluation committee.” Ultimately, school boards are held accountable for and are responsible for implementation of this program and its results. In order to do this effectively, they must retain final decision making authority.
Delays Implementation of Statewide Educator Evaluation Program: S.B. 1097 would also delay the implementation timeline of the new system by one year, and require all school districts to fully implement the model in the 2014-15 school year. The Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) and the State Board of Education’s (SBE) have already reached a decision to phase-in the model gradually starting next year. This bill would override that agreement, which was reached with consensus of all stakeholder groups participating.
“We cannot dial back our efforts aimed at ensuring all kids have access to great teachers and principals,” said Jennifer Alexander. “Research is clear on the long-term positive impacts of effective teachers for kids, as well as the long-term negative impact on kids of ineffective teachers (1,2) We owe it to our kids to keep moving forward.”
Alexander continued: “I strongly urge members of the Education Committee to reject S.B. 1097 and to follow through on the promises made to our kids in last year’s landmark education reform law, including the new teacher and principal evaluator program.”
To read Jennifer Alexander’s testimony submitted to the General Assembly’s Joint Education Committee regarding S.B. 1097 in full go to http://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/EDdata/Tmy/2013HB-06622-R000315-Jennifer%20Alexander-Acting%20CEO%20for%20ConnCAN-TMY.PDF.