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Teacher claims video proves CCSD intends to 'fire' educators based only on testing data

Patrick Hayes, a CCSD teacher and leader of the education advocacy group EdFirstSC, claims he has found video proof superintendent Gerrita Postlewait plans to make decisions about educators’ futures based strictly on student test scores. (Photo sources: EdFirstSC.org/CCSDschools.com)

A local teacher and leader of an education advocacy group claims he has found video proof the Charleston County School District’s superintendent plans to make decisions about educators’ futures based strictly on student test scores.

In a letter Tuesday, Patrick Hayes, a fifth grade teacher employed by CCSD, claims superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait admitted during a February board meeting she will be using “test scores alone” to make decisions about educators’ contracts at the end of this school year.

Hayes, who also serves as director of education advocacy group EdFirstSC, says Postlewait made her alleged comments during a Feb. 13 school board committee meeting. CCSD posted a video of the meeting to its YouTube page.

(Watch the video embedded below. Mobile users unable to see the video can CLICK HERE.)

During the meeting, board members and district officials were discussing the most recent EVAAS (Education Value-Added Assessment System) data for 11 CCSD schools. EVAAS is a program used by South Carolina to track student growth and progress based on standardized testing data over several years.

A complete review of the video does not show Postlewait making the specific statement Hayes alleges about making hiring decisions based on test scores alone. However, at 16:20 into the video. a board member asks if the EVAAS data will be used this school year as Postlewait makes contract decisions.

“Absolutely,” Postlewait says. “It will absolutely be used this year.”

District officials said during the meeting they will be submitting students' ACT and MAP testing data to EVAAS beginning this year to be included in future reports.

"Dr. Postlewait has demonstrated a clear pattern of deception, abuse of power, and misplaced priorities," Hayes wrote in his letter. "Her leadership has brought the district into chaos and crisis. EdFirstSC is calling for her immediate resignation, along with that of Board Chair Kate Darby, so that credible leadership can be found."

On May 17, James B. Edwards Elementary principal Jake Rambo revealed in a publicly released resignation letter that CCSD officials wanted to transfer him to a new school, in part, because of his refusal to take part in a new educator improvement system based on student test data.

In April, District officials confirmed to The Post and Courier details about the new teacher evaluations, including their intention to use EVAAS data.

CCSD school board chair Kate Darby reportedly told the paper the district’s goal was not “to fire a bunch of teachers,” with Postlewait adding “We do not want to replace teachers. We want to improve practice.”

During the February meeting Hayes pointed to in his letter Tuesday, Postlewait made her case for why student progress as tracked by EVAAS should be used to evaluate teachers, and ultimately to make decisions about their contracts.

“Frankly, my question would be, why in the world if we see a couple years of a pattern with a level one (teacher), why would we renew that contract,” Postlewait said. “I’d want to know that information about my physician, and if I were a parent, I’d want to know this type of information about my child’s teacher.”

CCSD officials have said repeatedly that testing data is only one of several criteria used to evaluate teacher performance. Tuesday, the CCSD released the following statement regarding Hayes’ claims and Postlewait’s comments during the board meeting:

The Charleston County School District and Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait continue to maintain the belief and practice that no single criteria should be used to measure the quality of education being provided to the children of Charleston County School District. This position was once again reaffirmed during the May 22, 2017 Board of Trustees meeting.
We are committed to providing equitable opportunities for all students to learn and to providing the support our teachers need to make this possible.
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