Carol Corbett Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Center, Long Island, New York, runs a good school. She wants to protect her staff and her students from ill-advised state interference. She wants to keep morale high. She has led the principals’ rebellion against the state evaluation plan. In this post, she reviews the evaluation plan that John King, our state commissioner of education (who has minimal experience as a teacher or a principal) imposed on the New York City public schools:


Recently Commissioner John King imposed a high stakes evaluation plan on New York City teachers. When you look at the plan, you see that the scoring bands for the first two categories, (student growth based on test scores and other achievement measures), are dramatically different from those used this year to evaluate all of NYS teachers with APPR evaluation plans. For example, this year’s scoring band range for Ineffective is 0-2 in the first two categories. Yet NYC teachers will have an Ineffective range of 0-12 in the first two. Likewise, this year Effective starts at 9, but for NYC teachers it will start at 15.

Why? Because the score band that is being used for our APPR scores has serious problems that cannot be addressed through negotiations.  For example, if you get the rating of ‘developing’ in all three categories and the scores are on the low end of developing, you will be rated INEFFECTIVE overall. 

Here is the arithmetic:  3 + 3 + 58 = 64

Because word problems are all the rage with the common core, let me turn it into a word problem: Developing + Developing + Developing = Ineffective

The 3s come right off the 3012C score band. So where does the 58 come from? Teacher unions negotiate the final 60 points, known as “other points”. So let’s say they negotiated 60 points for highly effective.  And they negotiated a plan so that all effective teachers get 59 points. That would leave 58 points for developing teachers, and 0-57 points for ineffective. Bizarre, but the best you could do.

Once again…..

3+ 3 + 58 = 64, D+D+ D = IE because 64 means you are Ineffective.

 Now, I wrote about these ridiculous and very unfair bands in February of 2012.  But Mr. Leo Casey, then of the UFT, took me to task. And he took Diane Ravitch to task for supporting me. He said that I did not understand.  From that EdWize blog…

“Is it really necessary to note that teacher union leaders with substantial experience in collective bargaining know how to do simple math, and would not agree in collective bargaining to scoring bands for teacher performance that would produce such an incongruous and unfair result?”

Well, Mr. Casey, take a look at the plans that have been negotiated around New York State, and do the simple math in all of the plans.  Diane and I will be happy to accept your apology.

Despite the fact that this problem is known to SED, they have yet to honestly address it or speak about it. What is the right thing to do? Have this year’s APPR scores not count, and certainly not have them shared with parents. Instead they are hiding their math mistake.

And now we have the Commissioner’s NYC fix.  Yes, it fixes the D+D+D= IE.  But he solved a problem with a problem. Here are the new bands below.

Commissioner Imposed Cut Scores for New York City

  Growth or ComparableMeasures Locally-selected Measures of growth orachievement Other Measures of Effectiveness(60 points)   Overall CompositeScore
Ineffective 0-12 0-12 0-38   0-64
Developing 13-14 13-14 39-44   65-74
Effective 15-17 15-17 45-54   75-90
Highly Effective 18-20 18-20 55-60   91-100


Notice how the “points” shift over to the Ineffective rows… So let’s run some scenarios. A teacher gets 12 points in growth, 12 in the locally selected measures and their principal is very impressed with their teaching and professionalism and gives them 60/60 points in other measures. WOW!  84 points! That is an effective teacher.  Umm, not so fast.  Both the NYC plan and the law say that if your scores are in the Ineffective range in the first two columns you must be Ineffective overall.  In this case, 84 = Ineffective.

But suppose you get 12 + 13 + 40 = 65. You are a Developing teacher.

Yes, in this score band, the arithmetic is quite creative….

84 can be < 65 in a world where test scores must trump all.