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Assembly approves new teacher evaluation system

Another day has gone by without the State Assembly voting on a charter cap bill, but that doesn’t mean the members are twiddling their thumbs. They voted today to approve the new teacher evaluation system that came out of a deal between the state and teachers union earlier this month.

The system would make students’ test scores a factor in teacher evaluations, a change that state officials believe will improve New York’s bid for Race to the Top funds. It would also give principals the choice of labeling teachers one of four options — highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective — rather than the current choices of satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

City education officials have criticized the new system for being vague and forcing districts to work out some elements of the system with their local teachers union. While the agreement calls for 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation score to come from her students’ test scores, it requires another 20 percent to come from local assessments, which districts and unions would have to negotiate.

ENHANCED TEACHER EVALUATION SYSTEM APPROVED BY ASSEMBLY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan today announced that the Assembly passed legislation creating a comprehensive statewide evaluation system for teachers and principals (A.11171/Nolan). Under the legislation, 40 percent of the evaluation would be based upon student achievement. The remaining 60 percent would be comprised of locally-developed measures, including classroom observations. These annual professional performance reviews would be a factor in promotion, retention, tenure determination, termination and supplemental compensation. The reviews would rate the effectiveness of teachers and principals as highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective. The legislation would require that improvement plans be developed for any educator who receives a rating of developing or ineffective, and that a pattern of ineffective teaching or performance – two consecutive annual ratings of ineffective – would constitute significant evidence of incompetence and could form the basis for just cause removal through a newly established expedited hearing process. We have an obligation to New York State’s children to provide them with the best education possible, said Silver (D-Manhattan). This overhaul of the way we evaluate educators will provide for a more objective, student-centered rating system and help to ensure that under-performing schools, teachers and principals are given the assistance they need to improve. This legislation enhances the current system of teacher evaluations, which only categorizes educators as satisfactory or unsatisfactory, said Nolan (D-Queens). It’s crucial that a number of factors are taken into consideration when reviewing a teacher or principal’s performance, including student achievement. By instituting more rigorous guidelines, we will make New York State an even stronger competitor in the next round of federal Race to the Top funding. The new evaluation system would be phased in at the start of the 2011-2012 school year for teachers in grades 4 to 8, and their respective principals. In 2012-2013, the new evaluation standards would become applicable to all teachers and principals. This legislation would also authorize the board of education of a school district or the Chancellor of the New York City school district to contract with an educational partnership organization for up to five years to manage schools identified as persistently lowest-achieving or under registration review. The contract would be required to outline expectations for academic outcomes and district expectations, and stipulate that failure to meet those expectations may be grounds for termination of the contract.