Research shows tying teacher evaluations to test scores is a failure; IL still does it

New research shared in Ed Week recently confirms what ed experts have been saying for years, which is that tying teacher and admin evaluations to student test scores is deeply unfair in inequitable school systems, harmful to school culture, and not beneficial to student achievement. Researchers from Brown, Michigan State, University of Connecticut and UNC Chapel Hill analyzed a multitude of data from 2009 to 2018 and found no evidence that this policy had even a small positive effect on student achievement. 

Efforts to Toughen Teacher Evaluations Show No Positive Impact on Students

What can we do about it?  In 2010, IL passed a law called the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) in order to get a paltry amount of Race to the Top money, yet this law is still in place in IL despite no federal requirement for it.

Our legislators could overturn this law, which would help reduce the awful pressure our students face with high-stakes hyper-accountability testing. Let's share this important article with our state legislators and ask them to ditch the 2010 PERA law! 

Find your state legislators here.  

Sample email:

Dear {Senator or Representative ____},

I’m a constituent of yours and a public school {parent/teacher/supporter} who cares about the future of our public schools in IL. I have seen the harmful effects of high-stakes standardized testing in our schools, and I wanted to share this article with you about important new research that confirms tying teacher and administrator evaluations to student test scores has shown no benefit whatsoever. IL passed the PERA law in 2010 and should consider overturning it. There is no federal requirement to engage in this failed policy. We shouldn’t be extending failed policies at a time when we need to retain and grow our teacher force in IL, and this harmful policy pushes teachers out of the field. 

If you have any questions about this, email us at [email protected]


Recess survey

If you have a child in grades  K-5 in IL, please take our super-quick recess survey! We want to know if your school is in compliance with the new recess law mandating at least 30 minutes of unstructured play time for students in K-5. This law also prohibits schools from taking away recess as a punitive measure. Please let us know what’s happening at your school!


Chicagoans, sign a petition on SOPPA!

The changes to the Student Online Personal Protection Act we spearheaded in 2019 came into effect on July 1 this year. The rollout of these amendments seems to be relatively smooth around the state. The vast majority of IL’s 850 school districts have joined the IL Student Privacy Alliance; membership is free and districts can use the ISPA’s resources including SOPPA compliant contracts for most software in use in schools.

Chicago Public Schools unfortunately didn’t join ISPA and has not approved many basic sites and apps that are in use elsewhere in the state and in compliance with SOPPA. But yet CPS is also still having schools use applications, including its own district-wide Student Information System, Aspen, that aren’t even on its list of approved software

This snafu has had a negative impact throughout the district with teachers struggling to rapidly revamp curriculum, students losing out on foundational software and student journalists left without a platform to publish on.

If you haven't been following this story and want a great quick primer, listen to this WGN interview from last week with Lane Tech computer science teacher Jeff Solin about the effects of CPS’s implementation here. (It starts at the 4:20 min mark.) 

It didn’t have to be this way in CPS, as the rest of the state shows! 

Sign a petition from CPS teachers to the new CEO Pedro Martinez here 

The petition urges the CEO to redo CPS’ policies and procedures to align with ISPA.

Want to know more about SOPPA? Watch our webinar from earlier this fall.


School board disinformation

We learned last week that the IL Association of School Boards severed ties with the National Association following the letter that was written to President Biden requesting help from the Feds to monitor threats and violence faced by school board members and staff across the nation. 

Ed Week National School Board Group's Apology for 'Domestic Terrorism' Letter May Not Quell Uproar

As we’ve shared, there have been many incidents reported in Illinois of school board members being harassed and threatened for following the mask mandate policy and other covid safety protocols, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion measures around race and gender. It’s unfortunate that the IASB caved to right-wing pressure, but from what we’ve read, they were already considering severing ties for other reasons. 

Either way, now more than ever, we need to support our public schools against any threats to school leaders, bigoted attempts to ban books or limit the teaching of accurate and true history. It’s beyond sad that we have to write this, but solidarity in standing up for public schools and against right-wing groups trying to weaken them is critical right now.

We recommend this excellent article by education writer Melinda D. Anderson covering the reality of what the need and the push for culturally-relevant curricula and against systemic racism looks like on the ground:

HuffPo: The Missing Voices In The Panic Over Critical Race Theory: “With the attention on ‘parents’ rights’ in the widely covered Virginia election, one group was conspicuously absent: Black families who support teaching about race and racism.”




[Graphic used via Creative Commons]