Pat-Med Super says tests scores don’t define teachers
Michael J. Hynes (right), Patchogue-Medford superintendent of schools, told teachers that he doesn't believe teachers are best evaluated by growth scores.

Courtesy Photo

Pat-Med Super says tests scores don’t define teachers

Story By: GLENN ROHRBACKER
8/2/2018


In a letter to teachers, Michael J. Hynes, Patchogue-Medford superintendent of schools, reiterated his stance that test scores do not define them.

“The Patchogue-Medford School District fully supports you as an educator, regardless of what this meaningless, invalid, and inhumane score states,” he wrote.

New York State rates teachers based on student growth with a variety of factors in English and math classes. The system also rates school principals.

“I think the system is flawed,” Hynes told the Advance Thursday. “Nobody likes to be reduced to a number.”

Hynes said administrators should continue to evaluate teachers and their effectiveness, but on a more personal level, rather than with test scores. Hynes fears that if enough emphasis is put on teaching for state tests, educators will move to that model of instruction, rather than providing a holistic experience for students.

How can teachers be evaluated?

Hynes believes that conferencing with teachers and observing them on a personal level gives administrators a better glimpse at classroom life. Through formal and informal observation, peer mentoring, and other methods. Pat-Med teachers are being exposed to alternate evaluation methods. But Hynes said this isn’t enough, and it can’t be completed in its full extent due to the reality of the state requirements.

“We can’t attach student test stores to outcomes of how teachers are performing,” Hynes added, saying that there are too many variables on which to base effectiveness.

Teachers have become anxious about their score, according to the superintendent, who has received feedback where teachers that are marked “highly effective” are still worried about points lost.

The NYS system explains that growth is measured by calculating a student’s performance in the beginning and end of the school year, including enrollment time, attendance, and comparisons to fellow students.

The department of Education gives this reasoning for the evaluation methods:

All students enter their teachers’ classrooms at differing levels of academic proficiency or achievement. One way to measure proficiency is student performance on standardized assessments. By measuring the amount of progress, or “academic growth” a student makes during a given school year on these assessments, we can begin to understand the influence of that particular school year experience on student learning. By measuring academic growth rather than proficiency, we can identify strengths and gaps in student progress and help teachers to better support students who have a wide range of academic needs.

Hynes is concerned that this leads to “teaching for the test,” or educating students specifically to satisfy test requirements. This is the third year that Hynes has sent this letter to teachers, urging them that they are more than a score.

“Through time, I want to practically condition our teachers to not worry about it,” he added.