Friday, January 29, 2010
Media Contacts:      
Jessica Mayorga, (203) 946-7660  Cell – (203) 627-4224
Michelle Wade, (203) 946-8450  Cell – (203) 675-5132
Independent Survey of Teachers and School Administrators Finds Widespread Agreement on Using Measures of Student Learning in Teacher Evaluation
Improving Teacher Evaluation System is a Pillar of Mayor’s School Reform Agenda
Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) superintendent Dr. Reginald Mayo, New Haven Federation of Teachers (NHFT) president David Cicarella and Administrator Union president Peggy Moore, today announced the preliminary results of an independent survey of NHPS teachers and administrators, which demonstrated widespread agreement on the school system’s commitment  to  improve the way it evaluates and supports teachers. Improving teacher evaluation is a major component of Mayor DeStefano’s ambitious school reform agenda and is one of several reforms NHPS and NHFT are implementing as a result of the historic teachers’ contract signed last fall. Today’s survey results will serve to inform the work being done by the reform committee  to  shape the new evaluation system that NHPS and NHFT will present to the Board of Education this spring.
The survey found a strong consensus among teachers and administrators that the current evaluation system is in need of improvement.  Only 38 percent of teachers and 22 percent of administrators are satisfied with the current evaluation system.  Additionally, the majority of teachers strongly agree that all teachers should be observed throughout the year.  Currently, only about half believe evaluations currently give teachers feedback that could help them
improve their performance in the classroom. Furthermore, only a third of teachers and administrators believe the evaluation system adequately addresses instances of poor teacher performance, even though 54 percent of teachers and administrators report that more than 5 percent of their colleagues are delivering poor instruction. The survey also found that the vast majority of teachers and administrators believe that it is important to base evaluations on measures of student learning.  Finally, almost half of teachers and administrators report that their students are not currently making appropriate academic progress.
“Our teachers and principals have confirmed the need for dramatic reform and they have demonstrated that they want to be part of it.” said Mayor DeStefano. “If we want to put a great teacher in every classroom in our city, the first step is to develop an evaluation system that’s tied to measures of student learning—including standardized test scores—so we can recognize our best teachers, give all teachers the feedback they need to improve, and remove the relatively small number of teachers who don’t help their students learn despite our best efforts to support them.”
“As we move forward on school reform here in New Haven, this survey is encouraging because it confirms the commitment of our teachers and administrators.  They are saying to us, ‘As professionals, we want a tool that highlights our strengths and shows us areas of weakness so we can make improvements,” said Superintendent Mayo. “We are all on the same path…the right path towards providing our students the best education possible.”
David Cicarella, president of the New Haven Teachers Federation said, “We know the majority of our teachers are doing great work.  And we want an evaluation system that that recognizes effective teachers as well as allows for poor performance in the classroom to be addressed. We are pleased to have a voice in this process and are confident that the outcome will be fair and comprehensive.”
“The results of this survey demonstrate the need for reform in the teacher evaluation system.” said Administrator Union president, Peggy Moore. “As always, our ultimate goal is to improve student learning and achievement. In developing any document for evaluation, collaboration and cooperation between administrators and teachers is paramount.  We need to produce a document that identifies exemplary teachers, while also identifying those teachers who are in need of assistance with specific feedback for improvement.”
The survey was conducted by The New Teacher Project (TNTP), a national non-profit that has helped school districts across the country identify ways to evaluate and support their teachers more effectively. TNTP invited every current NHPS teacher and school administrator to participate in the survey. Approximately 1350 teachers and 90 administrators responded, response rates of 74 percent and 94 percent respectively. Other preliminary results highlight a number of areas that NHPS teachers and administrators want to address in the current teacher evaluation system:
·         Ability to promote student achievement: Only 37 percent of teachers and administrators agree or strongly agree that the current evaluation system promotes student achievement.

·         Amount of useful feedback for teachers: Only about half of teachers (46 percent) and administrators (55 percent) agree or strongly agree that the current evaluation system provides useful feedback that helps teachers improve their instruction.
·         Recognition of excellence: Less than half of teachers (47 percent) and administrators (48 percent) agree or strongly agree that the current evaluation system recognizes exemplary performance.
·         Evaluation Components:  A strong majority of teachers indicated that all teachers should receive annual evaluations and these evaluations should identify areas for development and provide a clear measure of performance.    Teacher opinion about peer evaluation varies greatly, particularly by subject area and grade level.
The survey results also show that there is widespread agreement among teachers and administrators on how to improve the evaluation system. A vast majority—87 percent of teachers and 99 percent of administrators—believe that measures of student learning should be an important part of the evaluation system. About half of the teachers in tested subjects—52 percent at the elementary school level and 46 percent at the middle school level—believe growth in standardized test scores should be one of those measures.  There is also agreement on some factors that should not be considered in evaluations.  For example, only 17 percent of teachers and 33 percent of administrators agreed that student graduation rates should carry weight.
Furthermore, nearly all teachers and administrators believe the evaluation system should recognize exemplary performance (89 percent of teachers and 99 percent of administrators), help teachers improve their instructional performance by providing specific and useful feedback (96 percent and 100 percent), and identify and offer concrete steps to remedy poor performance (95 percent and 100 percent).
A committee comprised of NHPS and NHFT representatives has been working on a proposal for the new evaluation system and will deliver a recommendation to the Board of Education by April 15, as required by the teachers’ contract.  These preliminary findings will serve as the basis for a future analysis that will culminate in a final report from TNTP to be released this spring.  
New Haven’s aggressive school reform efforts were launched last fall and are centered on the goals of dramatically decreasing the City’s drop-out rate, ensuring that all students have the preparation and means necessary to go to college, narrowing the achievement gap and increasing the graduation rate. School reform in New Haven aims to retain and recruit highly talented teachers and administrators, grade schools giving the best performing schools the flexibility they need to continue their success while providing appropriate interventions for underperforming schools, differentiated approaches to ensure that all students learn and a promise to all children in the district that if they work hard and stay out of trouble, they will have the resources necessary to go to college.