The principals of New York State have been up in arms in opposition to the “educator evaluation” system that the New York State Education Department has designed. More than one-third of the principals across the state have bravely signed a petition in protest.
The reason for the evaluation system is that New York had the misfortune to “win” Race to the Top. The $700 million did not go to schools for urgent needs, but to meet the mandates imposed by the U.S. Department of Education. One costly mandate requires the state to evaluate principals and teachers, based in part on test scores. Despite the fact that no state or district has figured out how this will work or how it will improve instruction, New York is plowing ahead.
A reader describes his views of this new system:
|Earlier this week, I spent two days along with 60 other school administrators (Superintendents and Principals) from the area districts to learn how to become a “Lead Evaluator” for the implementation of the new APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review).
This new law requires district administrators to conduct multiple evaluations on every teacher (60% of the score), then add the teachers’ students’ results (20%) on flawed state assessments (remember the Pineapple story?), and another 20% on the results from local assessments. This score will give each teacher a score based on a 100-point scale and determine whether or not they are “highly effective, effective, developing, or ineffective”. The state will be providing the scores to the districts because they are “secured tests”. Teachers will not be able to glean significant data from the tests to see how they can improve their instructional practice, because the state will not provide schools with the test questions to allow for detailed and accurate item analysis.
It is not difficult to see where this train is going. Teachers will be vying for students that would be considered to have a positive impact on their APPR score and praying that students deemed to have a negative impact will be placed in one of their colleague’s classes. When the scores of individual teachers are made public (parents will be allowed access to their child’s teacher’s score and will assuredly end up on Facebook before they hit the parking lot), they will be demanding that their child be placed with the teacher with the highest score. Teachers will be pitted against other teachers, students, and parents.
This system was put in place allegedly to make it easier to fire ineffective teachers. However, if one looks at the law, it is now much more onerous to terminate an ineffective teacher than it was previously. The law was also put in place in order to be a contender for the infamous Race To the Top (RTtT) money. NYSUT supported the initiative assuming it would infuse more money into a system that desperately needs it. However, the money did not go to school districts to offset the massive decreases in state aid, but rather to the BOCES across the state in order to implement the new APPR.
Mr. Cuomo and Dr. King have cited many “facts” leading up to these massive changes. One example they have used is: New York schools are “Number 1 in spending but 34 in terms of results”. However, this statistic has been discredited. Education Week, which publishes the annual “Quality Counts” guide, ranked New York State No. 2 in the nation in a comprehensive analysis of policy and performance. Other statistics used for US schools in comparison to other industrialized nations have us ranked quite low. For example, scores from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that US students ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math out of 34 countries. However, when one digs deeper, the “facts” change. Dr. Gerald N. Tirozzi, Executive Director from the National Association of Secondary School Principals dug deeper and found that in order to get a more accurate assessment of the performance of U.S. students would be to compare the scores of American schools with comparable poverty rates to those of other countries. He found that Schools in the United States with less than a 10% poverty rate had a PISA score of 551. When compared to the ten countries with similar poverty numbers, that score ranked first. That’s right folks, the United States ranked FIRST! Finland was second. As Mark Twain once said, “There are three kinds of lies; lies, damn lies, and statistics.”As an educator for 20 years, I am proud of our schools and our teachers. They work hard and deserve our respect. Teachers and students should never be reduced to a number. It is bad for education and it is bad for our nation. APPR as it now stands should be repealed. For the sake of our children, please contact your state Assemblyman or Assemblywoman to get rid of this law. Our children deserve better.