Conn. State Board Of Education Approves Guidelines For Teacher Evaluations

Marion Herbert's picture
Friday, June 29, 2012

The Connecticut State Board of Education approved guidelines for a new system that will tie student performance to teacher evaluations.

The State Board of Education approved guidelines Wednesday for a new system that will tie student performance to teacher evaluations.

Under the new system, teacher evaluations will be based on several factors, including students' standardized test scores, announced and surprise observations by supervisors, achievement of mutually agreed-upon teacher goals, and possibly, student and parent recommendations.

Under a new state law passed last month, a teacher must demonstrate "effective" practices to get tenure. Each school district will determine what is effective practice, using the new evaluation process, and then the state will review each plan for approval.

The new evaluation system and guidelines were developed over the past 18 months by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council, which included representatives of teachers, administrators, school boards and state officials. Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said the the advisory council reached consensus on the guidelines, but added that there remains disagreement, including "profound disagreement" on certain issues.

Joseph Vrabely Jr., a member of the state board, said the guidelines are "something I can get behind," though he said, "I know a lot of things have to shake out." He added that the evaluation system — which will feature four performance levels including exemplary, proficient, developing and below standard — will give teachers and the adminstrators "a communication tool… If someone is underperforming, it should not be a surprise to them."

But some board members raised questions about how exactly an "exemplary" performance is defined or what "developing" means.

Pryor emphasized that a $2.5 million pilot of the new evaluation system that will begin in September in 16 districts will help to identify what is working and what is not. Pryor also stressed that professional development for teachers is a major aspect of the new evaluation system.

Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connection Assocation of Public School Superintendents, and others from a school board association and other educational groups, spoke positively about the new evaluation system.

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