Hundreds of teachers skipped school to teach legislators a lesson in learning.
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require standardized test scores be used in teacher evaluations.
“It’s really frustrating for me to see politicians who don’t understand teaching, to be legislating it and telling me what’s right and wrong and whether I’m failing or not,” said Middle School teacher Julie Tzucker. “And I know I’m not failing.”
Right now the state can use standardized test scores in teacher evaluations, but they don't have to. A bill before the legislature would require it.
“Are we teaching children to think and reason and be creative and to understand? Or are we teaching children to take tests,” questioned elementary school teacher Michele Miller.
Opponents call it an unfair measurement of student progress. Test results often don't come out until after the school year is over.
“Having information about what students I had a year ago are doing does me no good in teaching this year’s kids,” said Miller.
Supporters say they’re at the mercy of the No Child Left Behind Act and that federal dollars are tied to teacher evaluations, including state test scores.
“I think what the feds are looking for is some accountability. Are we using data to drive our decisions and how we get data is through some testing,” said Frank Ordway, Director of Government Relations for the League of Education Voters.
Besides, says Ordway, test scores are only part of a much bigger equation.
“No single test will have an inordinate impact on an evaluation system nor should it,” Ordway said.
But teachers like Julie Tzucker fear it will impact how they teach and what students ultimately learn.
“I don’t want to spend a month on test strategy. That’s not what I got into teaching for and I don’t believe in that,” said Tzucker.
The union paid for substitute teachers to replace members who called in so they could attend the rally.
Lawmakers are considering two bills on changes to teacher evaluations, one in the House and one in the Senate.