Thursday, February 16, 2012

Comments on Evaluation Agreement - Not good

UPDATE: See the follow-up article on reactions of principals below.

I'm just back from the Success Charter hearing at MS 50 so I am just catching up on the evaluation agreement. Of course, knowing the UFT I don't need to see no stinkin' agreement to know it sucks but why not let experts confirm my instinct.

I'm just going to post James Eterno at the ICE blog and Leonie Haimson who both seem to see this as bad news. You know I'm always amazed when savvy people tell me that Mulgrew would never give on this or that  because it would destroy the union. Coming Next: the ATRs.

NYC Public School Parents: Leonie's take on the teacher evaluation deal announced today in Albany
Leonie heard more bad news and followed with:

only 13% of teachers will have independent review the 1st year of a an "ineffective" rating from a principal, and none the second year, according to GothamSchools.

See statement below from SED.  The agreement is as bad as could be imagined and considerably worse than it was before.

“The remaining subjective, collectively bargained 60 percent must consist of tightly defined, research backed measures. “

As though anything in this ridiculous plan – esp. his test score 40% -- which is really 100% the way I read it – is research-backed!

Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall.

So tell me what’s the point of the 40%?  Why isn’t it really 100%?  Does this make any sense?

The Commissioner has the authority to require corrective action, including the use of independent evaluators, when districts evaluate their teachers positively regardless of students’ academic progress;

What a dictator.  So even after we’re finally through w/ Bloomberg we’re stuck w/ this guy?

Duncan gives his blessing to the NY deal; says it was “union imagined” and claims there’s “strong evidence” for the turnaround model:

“The turnaround method has already shown strong results in other states,” he said. ”We have coming out soon some data on the first year those schools that are being turned around, and we are seeing some amazing success stories around the country: dropout rates going down, graduation rates going up, test scores increasing in the double digits.”
Whenever you see double digit increases in test scores, it’s probably fraudulent.
NEWS: Arne Duncan: NY overcame “stumbling block” with evals deal

James Eterno at ICE


The UFT and New York State United Teachers (All of the local unions in the state) gave away the store in today's agreements with the city and the State Education Department concerning teacher evaluations. This is part of a 2010 law that New York State passed to try to get Federal Race to the Top money. Details had to be negotiated with unions.  While we still don't have a final agreement on a new evaluation system in New York City, what is emerging is a system with few safeguards that has the potential to allow the Department of Education to terminate many tenured teachers starting in 2014.
At the state level, the NYSUT lawsuit on evaluations was resolved by today's agreement with the state. 40% of a teacher's annual rating will be based upon student performance on tests, with half of that 40% being standardized tests and the other half being locally developed assessments (whatever that means) that the State Education Department must approve.  The other 60% will be based on subjective measures such as principal observations and they can throw in some peer review, parent review or student review if the local district and union want to.  
The overall grade to achieve a passing rating for the year will be 65. Scores of 0-64 will result in an ineffective rating, 65-74 will mean a developing rating, 75-90 will mean an effective rating and 91-100 will translate into highly effective.  However, if a teacher is rated ineffective in the student test score portion, the teacher cannot get a passing grade.
 Also, if a principal doesn't like a teacher and does hatchet jobs in observations, it appears to me that huge test score gains will not save the teacher.  There are so many ways to fail teachers here. 
People say we shouldn't worry because we have tenure but two ineffective ratings in a row shifts the burden of proof onto the teacher to prove that he/she is not incompetent.  That will not be easy. One wonders why NYSUT would agree to any of this and not just tell the State to turn down the federal money that we would lose if there was no agreement.
As for New York City, the UFT held out in negotiations with the city for a stronger appeal process for teachers rated ineffective.  The DOE walked out of negotiations during the Christmas break and proceeded to announce that they would close most of the transformation-restart schools that were supposed to be the first to use the new evaluation system.  The UFT wanted teachers rated ineffective to have a review before an independent arbitrator while the DOE held that teachers should have a review by the Chancellor like the U rating appeal process where teachers lose 99.6% of these appeals. 
The compromise that was reached today was, as usual, an almost total capitulation by the union.  13% of teachers rated ineffective can have an appeal before a three person panel. One of the panel members will be chosen by the union, one by DOE and the third person will be selected by the first two.  That is truly an independent appeal process but according to President Mulgrew's email to us, "The union can identify up to 13% of all ineffective ratings each year to challenge on grounds of harassment or other matters not related to performance."  It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prove harassment if the students didn't succeed on the tests or a teacher's performance in class was rated ineffective by the principal.  Also, it is the UFT who decides which teachers get to have their case heard by the independent panel.  There will be no favoritism there right? It gets worse.
The other 87% rated ineffective can only appeal to the chancellor just like the current U rating appeal process.  One does not need a crystal ball to predict that teachers will continue to have virtually no chance in these hearings.  However the UFT says don't worry because, "A teacher who has an ineffective rating the following year will receive an independent validator.  (The person is chosen through a joint process and will not be a UFT or DOE employee.)  The independent evaluator will observe the teacher at least three times during the school year and issue a report with his or her rating of the teacher."  
This process sounds eerily like Peer Intervention Plus to me.  In PIP+ people not employed by UFT or DOE observe U rated teachers and basically rubber stamp the U's in most cases. If the validator agrees that the teacher is not ineffective, then that evidence can be used in a 3020A hearing (tenure hearing) to help the teacher as the burden of proof would then fall on the DOE but if the validator validates the ineffective rating as they usually do in PIP+, then the teacher would carry the burden of proof in the tenure hearing and the chances of staying on the job will be slim and none in my opinion. 
Tenure will be significantly weakened if this evaluation system is finalized.  The local assessments still have to be negotiated by the UFT and DOE.  A best case scenario is that there will never be an agreement on the local assessments and this whole new evaluation process will then collapse under the weight of its stupidity.  What are going to be the assessments for teachers in non regents subjects in the high school for example? 
The only way to stop any of this from going into effect is for us to raise our collective voices loudly and say that we're not going to voluntarily walk into the guillotine.  If today's agreement becomes our actual teacher evaluation system, then there will more than likely be massive teacher firings beginning in 2014.  
If there is anything positive to take from today's events, it's that President Mulgrew was there with the governor announcing the deal and maybe they are developing the kind of bond we can use to influence the state to pass legislation to end mayoral control now before the school system is completely destroyed.
PS-For those expecting our monthly Delegate Assembly report, I was stuck on the platform waiting for the 7 train for a long time yesterday, as a train was stuck one station ahead, so I missed most of the DA.  The resolutions that passed were not controversial and some of the Presidents' report, I am told, was about the evaluation issue so I am skipping doing a report which today is obsolete.  If anyone else wants to do it, email me at and I will post it.

Leonie posts:

Carol Burris, principal, on new teacher Evaluation Agreement

Carol is courageous Long Island principal who co-authored of a letter, signed onto by about one third of all NYS principals, protesting the NYS teacher evaluation system

Her follow-up article for the Washington Post Answer Sheet was called, “Forging ahead with a nutty teacher evaluation plan.”

Below is the email she sent out, late last night; below that is a message from by the State superintendent association, and below that, a statement by Commissioner King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, explaining the agreement announced yesterday. 

Clearly the agreement as summarized by King below says that test scores will trump all, as “Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall.”

In addition, the Commissioner can reject any locally devised system that isn’t “rigorous” enough, and can require “corrective” action if “districts evaluate their teachers positively regardless of students’ academic progress”, i.e. refuse to rate them as ineffective based on test scores alone. 

This all will be done by means of unreliable state tests that in recent years have been repeatedly shown to be defective, and by means of a “growth” model that has been shown to have even less reliability

The only possible meaning of “multiple measures” in this context is that there are multiple ways to ensure that a teacher can be judged as a failure.

From: Carol Burris
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2012 10:16 PM
Dear friends,
Every teacher I know  in NY is in a state of shock after seeing what NYSUT agreed to.  I think principals were somewhat prepared, but I do believe that teachers had hoped that somehow NYSUT would come through for them.  The power transferred to the commissioner is unprecedented. The governor's 'shot clock' flies in the face of the Taylor Law. The fact that Randi Weingarten applauded this agreement is beyond comprehension.  Teachers feel abandoned.
The governor who just last week said "I am the government" is a bully who is now thumping his chest in victory as the 'student lobbyist'. My greatest fear is that educators will be so discouraged they will bow their heads. Anything you can write, post, blog or send as an editorial in the next days and weeks will help to lift spirits.  I know Sean and I will keep the letter going but we will need your help in keeping resistance to this wrongheaded policy alive. thank you for all you do. Carol

From: Bob Lowry []
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2012 3:51 PM
Subject: NYSCOSS Superintendents Only Listserv: SED Statement on Evaluation Agreement

Below is the State Education Department’s news release on the SED-NYSUT agreement on teacher/principal evaluations announced earlier today.
This release provides a few more details, some of which are encouraging – for example:  “Appeals must be timely and expeditious and districts may terminate probationary teachers/principals or grant or deny tenure while an appeal is pending.” 
Some portions of the agreement will require changes in law which the Governor will propose as amendments to his budget.  Those must be submitted to the Legislature today, but we have yet to see those.  That makes it hard to take a firm bottom-line position. 
Picture (Device Independent Bitmap)
For More Information Contact:
Tom Dunn, Jonathan Burman or Jane Briggs
(518) 474-1201
Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch and State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said today the newly agreed upon teacher and principal evaluation system was made possible by a collaborative willingness to implement a process that will help improve student performance.  The two education leaders praised Governor Cuomo’s leadership in driving a resolution to the complicated negotiations. King said the new system will protect more than $2.5 billion in federal Race to the Top funds and other education funds over two years, and, more importantly, help improve student performance.
"This agreement is a significant improvement over the evaluation law passed in 2010," Chancellor Tisch said. "But our work is by no means over. The Regents have adopted a major education reform plan, and teacher and principal evaluations are just a part of that reform.  Today is a good day, but the best day will be when we’ve fully implemented the Regents reforms and we’ve made sure all our students get the education they need to succeed in college and careers."
"The goal is and always has been to help students – to give them every opportunity to succeed in college and careers," Commissioner King.  "To make that happen, we need to improve teaching and learning.  We owe it to our students to make sure every classroom is led by an effective teacher and every school is led by an effective principal.  Today, the Governor’s leadership and his commitment to our students have helped us take a strong step toward that goal."
King said teachers will be rated as either ineffective; developing; effective; or highly effective based on a scale of 100 points.
Other key provisions of the agreement include:
·       State assessments can be used for up to 40 percent of the evaluation if the local 20 percent share based on state assessments is used differently and collectively bargained;
·       The remaining subjective, collectively bargained 60 percent must consist of tightly defined, research backed measures.  A majority (at least 31 percent) of the 60 percent must be based on classroom observations by a principal or trained administrator;
·       There must be multiple observations and at least one observation must be unannounced;
·       Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall. Teachers who are developing or ineffective will get assistance and support to improve performance. Teachers who remain ineffective can be removed from classrooms;
·       All evaluations must be done annually by September 1;
·       All evaluation plans are subject to review and approval by the Commissioner to ensure rigor, quality and consistency with standards;
·       The Commissioner has the authority to require corrective action, including the use of independent evaluators, when districts evaluate their teachers positively regardless of students’ academic progress; and
·       Appeals must be timely and expeditious and districts may terminate probationary teachers/principals or grant or deny tenure while an appeal is pending.
King noted Governor Cuomo has included a "shot clock" in his budget proposal to link implementation of the new teacher evaluation system to increases in school aid.  Districts not finalizing an approvable evaluation plan by next January risk losing their share of state aid increases.  King said setting a deadline with consequences for districts will help ensure prompt effective implementation of the new evaluation system.

New York State Board of Regents
The State Education Department / The University of the State of New York / Albany, NY 12234
Office of Communications / (518) 474-1201
Robert Lowry
Deputy Director for Advocacy, Research and Communications
New York State Council of School Superintendents
7 Elk Street
Albany, NY 12207
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  1. Again we have been duped in the Great American UFT Con.

  2. Reports say that if the "independent evaluator" (that's a hot one) agrees with a principal's rating of ineffective, then the burden of proof in a 3020-A proceeding is on the teacher.

    Does this mean that the teacher in question receives no backing from the UFT and must pay for their own defense?

  3. If we don't take part in this conversation of teacher evaluation; then the de-former's are just going to do it to us!! It seems that principal's are going to have alot of homework to do also...which is alot different then what's being done today. My principal now does minimal work and teachers are out of the building. Let's see where we are does not seem like Bloomberg is going to agree to alot of this language, because he is not in control 100%.


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