WESTPORT—Over 100 students gathered in front of Westport’s Staples High School this morning to protest the aspect of Public Act 12-116, An Act Concerning Education Reform, which requires annual performance evaluations of principals, administrators, and teachers, based upon a new standard of “effective practice” and a framework developed by the state’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC).

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Wearing badges with numbers representing scores on standardized tests, student leaders Jordan Shenhar, Mike Holtz and Will Horne urged their classmates be more active in lobbying for a more holistic approach to evaluation than simply “posting a status on Facebook.” Holtz invited students to attend Monday evening’s Westport Board of Education meeting to ensure their voices are part of the conversation as policy is made. They’re also circulating a petition.

“We need to get the word out because policymakers…always think it’s great to set standards, but sometimes you have to think about what standards you’re setting and what exactly you’re doing, because the measures you’re putting out actually affect people’s lives,” Holtz said. “You have to make sure the standards and measures are good measures…that’s what concerns me.”

The idea for the protest came from an AP English assignment to do a project that would utilize students’ rhetoric and persuasion skills to work on something about which they felt particularly passionate.

Several parents and teachers, including 37-year veteran English teacher, and former leader of the Westport teacher’s union, Dick Leonard, were on hand to lend support.

Watch what they had to say.

Sarah Darer Littman is a critically-acclaimed author of books for young people. Her latest novel, Some Kind of Hate, comes out Nov. 1 from Scholastic Press.

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