“Now 38% of high schools students are college ready. 38%. 98.7% of high school teachers are rated effective. Who are we kidding, my friends? The problem is clear and the solution is clear. We need real, accurate, fair teacher evaluations.”-Andrew Cuomo, State of the State, 2015
In Great Neck, 95-96% of our students go to college. Nearly 100% of our teachers were rated Effective or Highly Effective. Where is the lack of correlation? Clearly, our evaluations ARE real, accurate, and fair.
“To reduce the over-testing of students we will eliminate local exams and base 50% of the evaluation on state exams.”
You don’t need me to tell you what’s wrong with this picture. No longer will we test what we teach and use the information to better work with our students. Instead, we will teach what we think the state will test, receiving little information that we can use in any meaningful way. Numerous independent studies show that the use of student test scores for teacher evaluation is deeply flawed...and yet Cuomo wants to more than double their weight.
“Second, the other 50% of the evaluations should be limited to independent classroom observations...We will stop local score inflation....”
By “independent,” Cuomo means observations done by state-contracted observers independent of the district. Since January 21, he has reduced his 50% target to 35%. But imagine: 35% of your annual rating will be determined by one 40-minute visit from someone who does not know you, your students, or your school, a person who has been directed to find at least 10% of those s/he visits to be ineffective and only 10% to be highly effective.
After the 50% based on test results and 35% based on one independent observation, only 15% of your evaluation will be determined by the evaluator who was certified by New York State and hired by the Great Neck Public Schools to supervise you. Why? Because Cuomo believes that administrators, particularly here on Long Island, are either in cahoots with or have been bullied by the teachers unions into accepting APPR plans that are skewed toward teachers. Oh, if only we had such power! Never mind that the State Education Department approved all these plans.
“We propose tenure to only be granted when a teacher achieves five consecutive years of effective ratings.”
50% of which will be based on student test scores, 35% of which will be based on “independent” observations. School districts will no longer have any power to determine whom THEY believe deserves tenure.
“Under the current 3020a system, it is so hard to remove an ineffective teacher that most districts will tell you that they don’t even try...We propose allowing a district to remove a teacher after two ineffective ratings unless the teacher can show that their scoring was fraudulent.”
The fact is that two years ago, the state legislature amended the law to allow school districts to bring charges of incompetency after two Ineffective ratings. Under the so-called “expedited 3020a” guidelines, it should take no more than 180 days, including appeals, for a truly ineffective teacher to be removed from the classroom.
Andrew Cuomo has so little faith in the merit of his proposals that, rather than allowing them to stand on their own through the legislative process, he has bundled them into budget negotiations. He has tied them to the $1.1 billion in state aid to schools he has proposed: if he doesn’t get legislative support for his proposals, he will not agree to that state aid amount. Further, he won’t release state aid projections-crucial to school districts that are trying to formulate their own budgets--unless and until his proposals are enacted. This is just plain bullying.
The key to Cuomo’s success will be the legislature. We MUST do whatever we can to inform our State Senators and Assemblypersons about the disastrous effects Cuomo’s proposals will have on public education. We MUST pressure them into refusing to comply with his agenda. We MUST let them know that their own future as our representatives depends on how well they serve US, their constituents. This is not a NYSUT issue, except inasmuch as we are all NYSUT. It is not a GNTA issue, except inasmuch as we are all GNTA.
You’ll be given many opportunities in the coming weeks to join in this fight. Don’t think for one minute that letting others speak for you will be sufficient. Only sheer numbers of people demanding action from politicians who want to keep their jobs will ensure that Cuomo fails...and that we’re allowed to keep ours.