Everyone expects teachers to be evaluated based on their job performance, teachers included.  However with the federal reform known as Common Core, there is an even greater emphasis on teacher evaluations.  One might assume this is a good thing, until you begin to understand how flawed this can be.

The Manchester Union Leader recently ran an article reporting that Nashua’s School Board is questioning how the district will keep “ineffective” teachers in the classroom.  Everyone should be concerned about keeping anyone who is ineffective in their position.  But who and what determines if a teacher is “ineffective”?  Can that “rank” be considered “fair”?

I would argue that we should all be concerned about the new teacher evaluation model that is being used in our public schools.  I ask you to consider all of the evidence that suggests this “model” may not be effective or fair when ranking teachers in our classrooms.  Unfortunately for those of us who want a fair evaluation of our teachers, this may not be the model we should be using.

This new “model” was developed by the New Hampshire Department of Education in order to meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Education.  This is being done across the country so states can secure federal funding and No Child Left Behind Waivers.

According to the article, “Student outcomes such as test scores other performance measures will count as 20 percent of a teacher’s final rank.”    In other words, you can expect more teaching to the test.  But, are these good tests?  Are they accurately measuring student proficiency in the core subjects?  I would answer that with a solid NO.

Teachers in Nashua already weighed in on the numerous flaws with the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  John Nelson, the principal of Fairgrounds Middle School, detailed the problems,  reported by teachers.  Here are a few disturbing comments by teachers on the Smarter Balanced Assessment:

*I feel sad for the students who have to take this test — not many will be successful.

*Much is said about “depersonalizing” information as part of a learning strategy. This is not how students learn.

*I am concerned that the math test is not necessarily testing students’ math abilities since there is so much reading. This test seems to assess how well the students read the math questions more than their math skills. Thus, because of the amount of reading, I question the validity of our receiving a math ability score.

There is a long list of problems however what’s even more disturbing is this report from Steven Rasmussen calling the Smarter Balanced Assessment, “fatally flawed”.  Rasmussen who is a publisher of math curriculum software offers a detailed analysis on the Smarter Balanced math assessment.  His scathing analysis may have been a reason for many parents to pull their children out of this kind of testing.

Across the nation and in New Hampshire, parents realized this assessment was not only going to be used to collect personal data on their children, it was “fatally flawed” too.

Why is there now an effort by the federal government to tie a teacher’s evaluation to the standardized test?  It’s a good way to assure compliance by teachers to teach to the Common Core tests.  If teachers are now evaluated on Common Core tests, chances are they will actively teach to that test.

George Farrington who is the President of the Nashua Board of Ed questioned what would happen if students are left with “ineffective” teachers.  No where is it reported that he even questioned the authenticity the tests.
“If we identify through this system, a teacher who is less than effective, was there any discussion about the students impacted by them?” asked BOE President George Farrington. “Are we going to allow students to be with those teachers for three years while they continue to grow?”

The first concern among all school board members should be, is this an effective way to evaluate teachers?  If not, it should be scrapped immediately.

*Do the Nashau Board of Ed members stand behind all of the tests that will be used to evaluate student growth?
*Have they performed any kind of evaluation on the tests themselves?
*Is the Smarter Balanced Assessment included in their evaluation?
*Is this a fair and effective way to measure student growth and evaluate teachers?

Based on the numerous problems with the Smarter Balanced Assessment, it is critical that parents in Nashua and around New Hampshire look at this new way of evaluating teachers.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment should not be included in any teacher’s evaluation given the problems associated with it.   Parents should demand to know what tests will be included and ask for PROOF that they’re; validated, have been evaluated by New Hampshire teachers, and follow New Hampshire statute on assessing students.

The Union Leader article reported on the discussion about ineffective teachers.  Where was the discussion on ineffective Common Core Standards?  Ineffective teacher evaluation models? Ineffective bureaucrats who continue to force education reforms?

The New Hampshire Board of Education voted to adopt Common Core Standards in 2010.  Where are the evaluations on those appointed bureaucrats?

The New Hampshire Department of Education under Governor Hassan developed a “model teacher evaluation” now being used in Nashua.  Where are the evaluations on those bureaucrats if this model unfairly punishes teachers in Nashua based on a testing scheme that is now considered fatally flawed?

The only ones I see getting punished are the teachers and they are not the ones who developed this scheme in the first place.

Ann Marie Banfield is the volunteer Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire.  She has been researching education reforms for over a decade and her focus is on academic excellence, literacy and parental rights.