Plattsburgh State professor takes on teacher evaluations

Despite the outcry by many in the field, the state is pushing hard to ensure all school districts come on line with the new legislation.

“Teacher evaluations are critical to ensure our kids have high quality teachers in the classroom because performance counts,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a press release. “I am disappointed that agreements could not be reached to impose teacher performance evaluations at some of our troubled school districts across the state.”

Cuomo said students lose because such schools continue to operate without true accountability. Secondly, he said the schools lose because districts will miss out on millions in federal aid.

“I urge all involved to get back to the table immediately, put their differences aside and put the kids first,” Cuomo said.

But Selwyn and many others say that is exactly what they are doing.

“Let’s start with the whole idea that this is largely based on testing,” Selwyn said. “There is no research or evidence that suggests these tests are reliable or valid or do what they say they are doing. Yet we reduce what we are doing in education to test scores.”

Plus, there is evidence that children learn differently and an array of factors often determine how a child will do in school, such as socio-economic status. More money and efforts should be directed toward those issues if leaders truly want to affect student outcome, Selwyn said.

But that is not happening, and Selwyn is concerned that the new system will force teachers to build curriculum around test preparation. That will leave little time for creativity or for exploring students’ interests and other areas that engage them.

“Our role as adults is to nurture and guide and support and inspire children to learn more,” Selwyn said. “I do not think that is what happens with these tests, and it is not what happens to teachers under that thumb.

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