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  • By Don J. Fessenden

    Many political leaders believe schools should be run like businesses and while the idea of tying a person performance evaluation to output/production may work in corporate America, it makes absolutely no sense in education.      

    Unfortunately several states have already adopted the practice of tying teacher evaluations to student performance.  In these states, unions are working overtime providing support to teachers facing lay-offs or even termination because of their students poor performance.  There are those justifying this type of evaluation system and ignoring the fact that there are to many variables outside of their control to make this system valid.         


    The variable compromising this teacher evaluation systems validity is the fact that no two teachers teach the same student the same curriculum.  Other variables effecting the validity of the evaluation system are listed below:

    * Cognitive ability;

    * Motivation;

    * Interests;

    * Aspirations;

    * Role models;

    * Parental support;

    * Peer group;

    * Teacher effectiveness;

    * School/ District effectiveness;

    * Community effectiveness

    * And many more.


    As an educator with more than twenty years of experience, it's very hard to understand how educational leaders could signed-off on this evaluation system.  One answer given often for the adoption of this evaluation system is that teachers are the only variable  falling under district control.  Wow!  Really?  So basically, because there's no way to control any of the other variables affecting student performance we place the weight of the students world directly on the teachers going above and beyond to provide the best possible educational experience.  


    Does this make sense?  We don’t believe this makes sense and is acceptable.  And while we support ongoing teacher evaluations, we strongly disagree with this student performance teacher evaluation system. Our leaders need to understand that looking at a teachers effectiveness based on student performance is an extremely bad idea. 


    There are numerous studies echoing this same sentiment.  Until state and federal educational leadership stand up for teachers and push back, or change this system we will continue to waste valuable time and money on am evaluation system that is creating a barrier between those leaders of education and the teachers accountable for the education of our children.  If closing the achievement gap is the primary goal, we need to find a better solution.   


    In fact, the continued utilization of this evaluation system is counterproductive and decreases the creditability of the teaching profession, dedicated to educating tomorrows citizens.  We need to create a valid teacher evaluation system that rewards those educators working with the most challenging students and removes those sub-standard teachers who have held on to their jobs because of the failures of those in administrative positions.     


    Leave a comment and tell us what you think?   


    Next up… Individual Educational Plans (IEP)...for all students






    #Teacher Evaluation# Performance# Student Achievement# #closingtheachievementgap# #allstudentsmatter   0Comments

  • By Don J. Fessenden

    Over my last eleven years in public education, I have had the distinct pleasure of proctoring our schools annual state driven mandatory student standardized assessment test.  In Connecticut during my tenure we have had the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT), Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT), Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC), and now the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) & Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).  All of these standardized tests are only relevant until the next big idea is discovered. 


    The problem with standardized tests is students lack the motivation to excel, last year while administering the SBAC, most students showed their true colors and put little effort into this assessment.  When asked after the first day of SBAC testing why they had finished the test in just five minutes, several students shared…why try, the results don’t matter.  Wow!  So you believe putting your name to a test which the results will be in your records forever, doesn’t count.  As you can imagine this was disheartening to me, it also provided a teachable moment. 


    After, providing all the reason why do your best is always worth the effort, I realized that it wasn’t their fault.  Until we give an assessment that matter’s we should expect much, much more of the same little too no effort.  This year we will be administering the PSAT and SAT to grade appropriate students and while it may take a few years for everyone to become comfortable with its administration, our students we will finally have an assessment that MATTERS! 


    It was a 180 degree change in attitude and behavior as students listened for instructions to the SAT.  The sound of concentration was accelerating as their level of effort on this test was off the charts.  We need to motivate our students, and by judging this year’s PSAT/SAT mission accomplished.  Now all we need to worry about is whether the PSAT/SAT will have lasting power with educational stakeholders.  There is one key take-away for leaders, make tests matter!


    As always, if you agree or disagree please leave us a comment.  Have an idea for a future BLOG post, let us know.    


    Next up…Time is an asset we can never recover, so why do schools still use study halls?


    #Connecticut Mastery Test# CMT# Connecticut Academic Performance Test# CAPT# Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium# SBAC# Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test# PSAT# Scholastic Aptitude Test# SAT# #Closingtheachievementgap# #allstudentsmatter   0Comments

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