The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Connecticut does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
The state allows local school districts to develop their own teacher evaluation instruments that are consistent with a comprehensive list of guidelines and best practices promulgated by the State Board of Education. These guidelines include demonstrating "a clear link between teacher evaluation and professional development and improved student learning." Evidence of student learning includes "teacher and administrator assessment of student work samples, performance measures (e.g., holistic scoring of writing) as well as teacher designed tests and standardized tests."
Further, Connecticut's recent legislation regarding education reform requires that evaluations include "multiple indicators" of student growth. However, this new policy does not ensure that evidence of student learning will be the most significant factor.
Classroom observations are considered "a necessary, but not sufficient, means to evaluate teaching," and must include strengths, areas needing improvement and strategies for improvement.
Connecticut General Statute, chapter 166, section 10-151b Public Act No. 10-111 Connecticut Guidelines for Teacher Evaluation and Professional Development http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/EducatorStandards/commit.pdf
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Connecticut's requirement of multiple indicators of student growth is a step in the right direction, it falls short by failing to require that evidence of student learning be the most significant criterion. The state should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. This can be accomplished by requiring objective evidence to count for at least half of the evaluation score or through other scoring mechanisms, such as a matrix, that ensure that nothing affects the overall score more. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
Ensure that evaluations also include classroom observations that specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Connecticut commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.
Utilize rating categories that meaningfully differentiate among various levels of teacher performance.
To ensure that the evaluation instrument accurately differentiates among levels of teacher performance, Connecticut should require districts to utilize multiple rating categories, such as highly effective, effective, needs improvement and ineffective. A binary system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.
Connecticut recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is currently working with the stakeholder group to revise the Educator Evaluation Guidelines. Meetings are held regularly, and one of the remaining issues is to address how much student growth will weigh when determining the overall evaluation outcome. Connecticut also plans to define performance levels.