With the governor’s clock ticking, the state Department of Education (DOE) and the teacher’s union put politics aside and placed education first, reaching an agreement on how to grade the graders.
The two sides reached a deal to create a new teacher evaluation system on February 16 – hours before Governor Andrew Cuomo’s imposed deadline – concluding more than a year of negotiations centered on how much weight student test scores can hold in the rating systems passed into law in May of 2010.
“Today’s agreement puts in place a groundbreaking new statewide teacher evaluation system that will put students first and make New York a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement,” Cuomo said. “This agreement is exactly what is needed to transform our state’s public education system, and I am pleased that by working together and putting the needs of students ahead of politics we were able to reach this agreement.”
The deal, which follows through on a commitment to install an effective evaluation system as a condition of the $700 million granted through the federal Race to the Top program, aims to give significant guidance to the state’s 700 school districts – which must now devise a plan to implement the system.
“Teachers support high standards and accountability for our profession. We believe today’s agreement is good for students and fair to teachers,” said New York State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi.
Under the plan, 60 percent of a teacher’s grade will be based on “rigorous and nationally recognized measures of teacher performance,” including classroom observations by an administrator or principal. The remaining 40 percent will be based on student academic achievement.
In total, there will be four possible rating categories – ineffective, developing, effective and highly effective – but a great deal of work is left to be done regarding how grades will be determined.
Cuomo also announced that an “expedited and streamlined appeals process for the New York City School District” was reached and will go into effect on January 17, 2013 if the city and United Federation of Teachers (UFT) agree to an overall evaluation system. The two parties have been deadlocked in discussions regarding how teachers can appeal a poor rating.
“This is very good news for the 1.1 million school children of New York City – and it will benefit students for generations to come,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “It will help us to create a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation system that will ensure that teachers who are rated ‘ineffective’ can be given the support they need to grow – or be moved out of the classroom.”
If the city and UFT are unable to reach a settlement, they risk losing hundreds of millions of dollars in school aid. However, Bloomberg is confident a deal will be reached and says the two sides have come to an agreement with Cuomo’s approval.
According to the mayor, the settlement on teacher evaluations will not affect the decision to close or phase out underperforming schools across the city – eight of which are high schools in Queens.
“[The] agreement recognizes that students are more than a test score,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “I want to thank the governor for his efforts to find a similar resolution for the issues that separate the UFT and Mayor Bloomberg. Chancellor Walcott’s asserted that the city needed to close 33 School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools because there was no agreement possible on an appeals process for teachers. That process has now been laid out for the SIG schools. Despite this agreement, Mayor Bloomberg still seems determined to close those schools.”