Adopting a Model Teacher Performance Evaluation System

Keeping Connecticut’s economy competitive will depend on getting consistently good results from the state’s education system. This week, the legislature’s Education Committee heard testimony on SB 1160, which focuses in part on improving the performance and evaluation of school teachers.  

Because every child is unique and every school district faces different challenges, CBIA urged committee members to craft teacher evaluations containing a measurable standard that can be applied no matter what the individual circumstances may be.

Strong student academic achievement is a basic goal of public education and therefore should also be the primary measure of a teacher’s effectiveness. Even though many factors make a great teacher, the preponderant weight of an evaluation needs to be on outcomes.

SB 1160 also creates a new means of dismissing teachers. Under the proposal, if a teacher fails to meet the standards of the model teacher performance evaluation system, he or she must complete a year-long remediation program. If improvements are not seen, the teacher may be recommended for dismissal.

While this is a positive and welcome reform, teachers’ evaluations could also serve a much broader purpose.

In fact, student outcome-based evaluations should be used throughout a teacher’s career, potentially preventing truly ineffective teachers from receiving tenure. Further, effectiveness standards should be applied to principals and administrators as well as teachers. No school can succeed without strong leadership. 

There is some debate on the definition of “effective teacher.” There is, of course, no way to account for every distinctive trait that makes a good teacher. However, it is possible to set a minimum threshold based on the primary mission of public education: An effective teacher is one whose students grow academically during their time in the classroom.

Delaying Reforms

The committee also voted to advance their proposal to postpone the already long-overdue school reforms passed into law last year. Further delay, as found in HB 6498, would be devastating for students in the state, many tens of thousands of whom already fail to attain basic proficiency in reading and math.

Once again, Connecticut would be outpaced by other states. We are disappointed that our schoolchildren will be at an increasing disadvantage compared to those in 20 other states that have already adopted similar reforms. This delay will further harm the future prospects of a large number of children. Last year’s reforms were duly enacted to address a serious problem; we simply cannot afford to delay implementation any longer.