Kenneth Mitchell, a school superintendent in the Lower Hudson Valley of New York, has been concerned about the costs imposed on school districts by Race to the Top. He previously estimated that six districts in his region would spend $11 million to comply with the mandates of Race to the Top, which paid these districts $400,000.
In this comment, he describes a recent meeting with lawyers about possible lawsuits that will be brought because of New York’s flawed Educator Evaluation System.
On Friday, March 14, The Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents hosted a panel of education attorneys to address the following topic:
LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF NEW YORK STATE’S NEW TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL EVALUATION SYSTEMS
Supervision, Evaluation & Tenure Decisions
• What is the effect of Education Law §3012-c on a school district’s ability to terminate probationary teachers and principals?
• How might overly prescriptive, rigid statutory and regulatory policy frameworks, such as §3012-c, regarding teacher evaluation, tenure, and employment decisions withstand teacher and principal appeals?
Statistical Reliability and Validity of Data in Supervision, Evaluation & Tenure Decisions
• How might the statistical reliability and validity of measures of teaching effectiveness – state assessments, VAM, SLO’s, school-wide assessment scores – affect teacher evaluation, tenure, and employment decisions?
• How will the metric of ‘confidence intervals’ be considered in a legal decision about a teacher’s effectiveness?
• How will the number of years of value-added assessment data to determine teacher quality be a factor in a teacher or principal appeal?
• In what ways will the use of locally-developed assessments, such Student Learning Objectives (SLOs), be challenged in an appeal?
• How will the individual evaluation of a teacher based on school-wide data, such as the 4th grade math assessment, withstand an appeal?
Implementation, Professional Development, and Resources
• How will such factors as consistency, training, and quality be considered in observations and evaluations developed by supervisors?
• How will equity issues, such as the access to materials (e.g., Common Core units) or technology, be a factor in an appeal?
• Experts in child and adolescent development have asked for a review of the Common Core to ensure that all of the standards are developmentally appropriate.
Since assessments are being developed on the basis of Common Core and teachers and principals being assessed accordingly, how will the aforementioned concerns be considered?
“Evaluation Law Could Limit Ability to Terminate Probationary Teachers”; Warren Richmond III (Harris Beach), New York Law Journal, (May 2013)
“Legal Issues in the Use of Student Test Scores and VAM to Determine Educational Quality”; Diana Pullin, Education Policy Analysis (2010 Manuscript)
In addition to these references, we have posted other related legal articles on the main page of our website: http://www.lhcss.org. We have also raised other concerns about the model that we have shared with state legislators, members of the Board of Regents, officials at the State Education Department and with representatives of the governor’s office. There are many other questions that will need to be answered once this enters the legal arena.
We shared that many in our organization have concerns that a) the design of reform model is flawed on multiple levels; b) the expedited and unsupported implementation will further contribute to inevitable legal challenges; c)the weak technical basis and very limited or no research behind elements of the model will not withstand legal challenges. These are just a few of our concerns. As a result, school districts will be wasting even more time and money on legal costs. Unless significant changes are made on the basis of substantive evidence, New York’s reform model is headed for trouble that will move beyond the anxiety and frustration of over-tested students, angry parents, weary teachers, and harried administrators.