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Big changes in store for teacher and principal evaluations

A deal between New York State’s education department and the teachers union could overhaul how some principals and teachers are evaluated next year.

The new evaluation system — which appears in bill-form below but has yet to be introduced in the state legislature — will initially affect only those principals and teachers who teach tested subjects like English and math to students in grades four through eight. For these people, an evaluation system that currently labels them either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” will be replaced with one that factors in their students’ test scores and has four categories: highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective.

But in 2012, the changes will affect all teachers and principals, regardless of their students’ age or the subject area they teach. The bill implies that the State Education Department could create tests for currently untested subjects and expand them for others, such as social studies and science, which are only tested in two grades. School districts may also have to create their own tests for all subject areas and students’ scores on these exams would also factor into teacher and principals’ evaluations. The bill leaves open the option of using students portfolios or other measures of content mastery in place of standardized tests.

With the union’s support, the bill that would enact these changes is likely to pass through the legislature with relative ease.

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