East Lyme superintendent opposes teacher evaluation via student test scores

East Lyme - Superintendent of Schools James Lombardo said Friday during a "State of East Lyme" gathering at Town Hall that he opposes a teacher-evaluation process — such as the one the Malloy administration proposed this year — that would base re-certification on student test scores.

"There is no research anywhere that supports the notion that if we hang a threat over a person, that will somehow motivate them more," Lombardo said. "I think our kids are being used as research guinea pigs right now."

Lombardo said during the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut event that during his frequent trips to China, he constantly is asked two questions: How do American school systems teach kids to be so creative, and why is the United States moving toward more testing of students when China is heading in the other direction?

Lombardo said America today is overly enamored of the power of data, leading to what he referred to as a "drill and kill" philosophy that is sure to inhibit creativity. He pointed out that the United States has never been particularly good at taking tests — it ranked near the bottom among 30 nations in the initial round of international comparisons first completed in 1953 — but it has been consistently at the top in its ability to create, discover and innovate.

"I don't think our goal is to be the best test-takers in the world," Lombardo said. "But it sure is the national agenda right now."

Lombardo backed the state's teachers unions in their opposition to any education reform passed by the General Assembly that attempts to connect student performance with re-certification or tenure.

"Teachers don't trust that that can be done in a fair way," he said. "I happen to agree."

l.howard@theday.com

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