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One firsthand account of how teachers could soon be observed

The fight over the state’s new teacher evaluations has focused on the 40 percent to be based on student test scores. But the other 60 percent, based on subjective measures like principal observations, could be just as tough.

That’s according to one teacher reporting from a school piloting the city’s stricter guidelines for classroom observations.

Commenting in our Community section yesterday, a reader posting as HS Biology Teacher said that system “seems to be designed to make it extremely easy to rate any teacher ineffective if the principal wants to.”

The DOE has drafted a rubric for rating classroom observations, but it is very tough. To be rated effective (3), you need to really hit every competency on the rubric during each full-period observation… and that is extremely difficult given the language of the rubric. For example, to be rated “effective” (3) in the category of “Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques”, every student in the room must participate in the lesson; if you do not have 100% participation, you can only be rated “developing” (2) in that category. Non-academic teachers (arts, music, physical education, etc.) teachers should be most concerned because the rubric does not really fit their disciplines. Physical education teachers in my building were rated as “ineffective” (1) in “Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques”. To earn a rating of “highly effective” (4) is near impossible.

The result: “the ratings were poor and morale was low.”

Most teachers got a rating of “Developing” (2) or just barely made “Effective” (3) with scores of 65-70 out of 100. I do not know of anyone in the pilot in my building who got “Highly Effective” (4), but I know of at least one “Ineffective” (1).

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