On January 28th, Governor Malloy sent a letter to the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) requesting they amend the major elements of Connecticut’s new teacher evaluation system implemented July 1 of last year. This announcement the day before the scheduled PEAC meeting stunned both state teachers and evaluators.
On January 29th, PEAC met and endorsed all three of Gov. Malloy’s suggested changes.
1. PEAC, which waived the use of state standardized test results as a part of the 2013-2014 teacher evaluation, will extend that waiver through the 2014-2015 school year. Teachers will not be held accountable for the field test of SBAC nor the last administration of the outgoing state standardized tests.
2. Districts have the option to reduce the number of formal evaluations required from one every year to one formal evaluation on a three year cycle with three informal observations on the off years. (It is important to note this change is for tenured teachers.) This change also reduces the number of reviews of practice from two a year to one.
3. The data collection process is to be streamlined so that only what is necessary for evaluation is included. In addition it will offer privacy protection that will limit teacher data to only those directly involved in the evaluation process itself.
Districts are to submit a flexibility plan for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year by March 30.
The Ct. State Board of Education approved these changes on Feb 4. While this will certainly cause much relief on the part of both teachers and evaluators, this will pose some problems as well. How do districts ensure equity in who gets a formal observation? It is likely many evaluators will be deep into the cycle. Will those who have not yet been observed just luck out? As many districts required teachers set four or five goals or objectives, will teachers who do not meet all of their goals be held accountable? Will teachers be able to choose the goal they want to focus on for the remainder of the year? Will districts that have added administrative positions just to cover the necessary evaluations have to use precious dollars to pay for those evaluators, if all that is left for them to do is a review of practice later this spring? Will the state make monies available to defray that cost?
Many see this announcement as a blatant grab for teacher votes in an election year. It is curious that the issues stated in Gov. Malloy’s letter, which pilot districts spoke to so passionately last spring, suddenly have so much more weight. Whatever the rationale, this is one time where sanity prevailed and teachers were on the winning side.