For the first time, parents and students in Connecticut could get a better look at the performance of the teachers in their schools.
The State Department of Education made available the first voluntary round of evaluations from school districts across the state.
In the data set are the measures of teacher success which are broken down into several categories: Exemplary, Proficient, Developing, and Below Standard.
According to the data, nearly 99 percent of all teachers evaluated are either Exemplary or Proficient with the rest, minute percentages, being rated as either Developing or Below Standard.
The data is broken down by individual district and even down to individuals schools that participated.
The data available now is for 2013-2014, while the 2014-15 data may or may not be released later.
The data from 2013-14 is part of a court case and was made public during proceedings. That year, the evaluations were voluntary for schools and administrators. 2014-15 was the first year where the new system was mandatory.
In a statement, Abbe Smith with the Connecticut Department of Education wrote of the data:
"What the ratings from the first year of implementation tell us is that teachers and principals are engaging in meaningful, professional dialogue and setting goals for how to strengthen the education we deliver to Connecticut students. This is an all-around win for Connecticut - teachers are empowered by having more of a voice in school improvement and students benefit from the increased focus on teaching and learning."
In the politcal education community, opinions are mixed about the evaluations.
Mark Waxenberg with the Connecticut Education Association, one of the state's largest teachers' unions, doesn't like that more than 40 percent of the evaluations are based on student test scores.
He said teachers have told him, “Release me from this one-size-fits-all test score mandate."
Waxenberg also said he wanted to see more weight placed on things like quizzes, assignment portfolios and essays assigned.
Another critic of the recent evaluation data is Jeffrey Villar with the Connecticut Council for Education Reform. Villar said, based on the results, there's little room for improvement for most teachers, which he claimed isn't accurate.
“I think we need to take a look at it and make sure we have some changes and make sure we have results that are meaningful and if everyone is given an ‘A’ then that’s not really meaningful results," Villar said.
Villar disagreed with the CEA. He said standardized tests scores, for teachers in particular, are critical because they're not subjective measures. He said they can be used to accurately reflect how and why a teacher's work is getting through to some kids and not others.
“I think it’s out of balance because we haven’t had the standardized measure, so absent that measure you’re getting sort of a biased end result," Villar said.
He added, “Ultimately, learning is the concern and we have to improve our teachers’ practice because we know teachers improve students. Teachers have a major impact on student learning.”