The State Board of Education voted 8-1 last week in favor of delaying for another year the coupling of standardized test scores and teacher evaluations.
Board member Steven Wright voted against the measure and Erik Clemons and Joseph Vrabely abstained from voting.
The vote, which adopts the recommendations of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council, came after groups urged its defeat.
Jennifer Alexander, chief executive officer of the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), told the board she was “disappointed that we are delaying another year” tying teacher evaluations to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test.
Alexander favors being able to use the test scores to evaluate teacher performance.
“Great teachers can change lives,’’ Alexander told the board. She said that test results help inform instruction.
Patrice McCarthy, deputy director and general counsel for the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, also urged the board to incorporate testing in teacher evaluations.
“Connecticut has the opportunity to be a leader, and not just in women’s basketball, McCarthy told the board. “It’s important to move forward on this initiative.’’
However, Connecticut’s teachers aren’t on board.
The Connecticut Education Association has lobbied against tying teacher evaluations to a “flawed” test.
They recently launched an advertising campaign to convey their message to the public, which focuses on eliminating the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test.
Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell said she supports the delay for another year, while the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council continues to study the issue.
Wentzell pointed out that a state survey of teachers found that 56 percent of them want the option of including test results as part of their evaluations, while only 18 percent want to bar their use.
But the state’s largest teachers union believes there’s no value in the high stakes test.
Overall, according to a CEA survey released earlier this year, 86 percent of teachers reported that the SBAC had a negative effect on the social and emotional well-being of children in their classroom. The survey also found that 43 percent of the 1,666 teachers reported that “significant portions of the test covered content that is not taught at my students’ grade level.” And 85 percent agreed that the SBAC was “an obstacle for my students to overcome.”
Several Connecticut teachers urged lawmakers at a March public hearing to eliminate the use of the controversial test.
David Cicarella, president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers, told lawmakers at that hearing that test data from the state’s Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test should “inform and drive our instruction” but not be used to weigh the skills of educators.
Kathleen Koljian, a Windham High School teacher, decried the “over-reliance on testing” that ignores the reality that many factors beyond a teacher’s control impact children.
“Many teachers in urban districts feel disenfranchised and disadvantaged by the linking of test score to our professional status,” she told legislators. “The continuation of this practice is likely to drive highly qualified teachers out of urban districts where they are badly needed.”
Currently, 45 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on student growth. Up to half of the growth indicators or 22.5 percent may be based on standardized test scores including the results of Connecticut mastery tests, like SBAC. The requirement was delayed for two years in part because the new test was not fully implemented until the 2014-15 school year.