Good, Bad and Ugly

02.23.12 | Ralph Kerr | Comments[2]

            These are the most descriptive words in my opinion to describe the recent agreement among Governor Cuomo, the Commissioner of Education and the President of New York State United Teachers related to teacher evaluations.

            “Good” because for the first time teacher evaluations will be directly tied to student performance and achievement and because all evaluation agreements negotiated locally are subject to review and approval by the Commissioner of Education. Until now teachers evaluations were primarily based on teacher performance such as their lesson preparation, classroom discipline, their level of expertise in their subject area and their willingness to participate in faculty development. Teachers will now be evaluated based on a potential score of 100 points. Up to 20 of these points will be based on student growth on state assessments, another 20 points on measures of student growth that are determined by the local school district. The final 60 points will be based on more traditional subjective means like classroom observations. The agreement also requires that every teacher must be evaluated at least once a year. Currently many veteran teachers are never evaluated unless they specifically request an evaluation. The specifics of the agreements negotiated locally will be subject to review and approval by the Commissioner. This oversight has never been required before. Teacher evaluation total scores will result in one of four ratings: highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective. This is where the agreement turns ugly in my opinion.

            Teachers receiving an overall score of less than 65 will receive a rating of “ineffective.” A teacher who receives an “ineffective” score for two consecutive years “COULD” face termination under the state laws that govern disciplinary proceedings for teachers. Currently termination proceedings can take between one and two years to complete. How would you like to have your child in a classroom where the teacher has been rated “ineffective” for two or more years? This is totally unacceptable. As a comparison would you go to a medical doctor for treatment even once, who you knew got his work, correct 2/3 of the time? I doubt it. I know I wouldn’t. It seems to me that a teacher who receives an “ineffective” rating for two consecutive years SHOULD be terminated immediately, for the good of the students and their education.

            The “ugly” part of this agreement is two fold at least. One is the President of New York State United Teachers statement about the agreement. He said, “This agreement signals the importance of involving teachers in creating the methods for evaluating them.” The fact is teachers have always been involved in negotiating the methods for evaluating themselves. This has led us to the lack of rigorous evaluations. In some districts the Board of Education has given the union the exclusive right to determine the evaluation process and criteria. Secondly there appears to be some confusion on the make up of the actual scoring. In other words what actually constitutes the break down of the scoring? Hopefully this will be resolved quickly so districts can move forward with this process.

            Teacher salaries and benefits in the public school system are paid by taxpayers. Their compensation should be based on satisfactory performance that is measured in some significant degree by the way the students under their teaching learn. Most teachers are successful in teaching the students they are assigned and as result the students learn appropriately. These teachers will not be concerned about these new evaluation systems that are to be developed. It is the teachers who are concerned who probably should be and as a result should be assisted in finding other employment where they can be more successful.




Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 02.29.12 Anonymous commented

on 02.29.12 Anonymous commented