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Partial teacher evaluation deal clears way for improvement funds

After months of negotiations, the city and teachers union announced a deal today on a set of reforms that will allow the state to claim millions of dollars promised to struggling schools.

The announcement comes a week after the state ramped up pressure on the city to finalize its plans for how to improve its lowest-performing schools. The state’s deadline to complete its application for federal School Improvement Grants is just two weeks away. New York City is eligible for up to $65 million to help 33 “persistently low-achieving” schools undergo one of four processes over the next two years.

The 33 schools will undergo one of two revamp options, “restart” and “transformation,” according to the agreement. Those models are the least aggressive and also the least objectionable for the teachers union: They do not involve removing teachers or asking them to reapply for their jobs. “Restart” assigns a new management organization, and “transformation” replaces the principal and brings in additional resources.

Decisions about which model each of the 33 schools on the list would undergo will be made “over the next week,” according to the city’s press release. Last year, 11 city schools underwent the “transformation” process, and nine schools are undergoing the restart process this fall.

The city’s press release is long on relief but short on specifics other than that the city and union have agreed to implement the state’s new teacher evaluation model — but only in the 33 struggling schools.An impasse over the evaluations had caused the months-long holdup in negotiations. A key sticking point was whether teachers would be allowed to discuss their observations with their principals: The union wanted meetings built into the agreement, but the city said the extra step would add unnecessary delay to the evaluation process. The issue is absent from the city’s press release but union officials said it had been resolved.

Supporters of the state’s toughened teacher evaluations said today’s agreement could be a blueprint for the rest of the city’s schools.

“This agreement is a good first step towards placing highly effective teachers in every classroom, but I urge both sides to institute this evaluation system across the board immediately so that every child has a chance to learn from the city’s best educators,” said Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, in a statement.

The city’s press release also heralds a performance pay program for teachers at the struggling schools that was finalized more than a year ago. That performance pay program will now be aligned with the state’s teacher evaluation law, and only teachers who fall into the highest of four tiers will be able to occupy higher-paying “master teacher” and “turnaround teacher” positions.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew looked only to the future in the city’s press release. Reiterating the union’s concern that the city has inadequately invested in struggling schools in the past — a concern that fueled the union’s lawsuit to halt 22 school closures — he said the priority is to direct the new federal funds to needy schools and their students.

“This agreement helps lay the groundwork,” Mulgrew said. “Now we have to focus on providing the resources these struggling schools need to make a real difference in the lives of their students.”

AGREEMENT BETWEEN DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND TEACHERS’ UNION WILL HELP SECURE $65 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDS FOR STRUGGLING SCHOOLS DOE-UFT agreement also includes a new, 4-category teacher evaluation system in these schools Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew today announced an important agreement that will help secure up to $65 million over the next two years in federal School Improvement Grants, a U.S. Department of Education program that provides funding to help transform our nation’s struggling schools. The funding will go to implement either restart or transformation at 33 City schools identified by the State as persistently lowest achieving (PLA) and therefore at risk of being closed. With this agreement, we will be able to bring millions of dollars in federal funding to these struggling schools and recruit top quality teachers to help students succeed and mentor other staff, said Chancellor Dennis Walcott. I also want to thank Michael Mulgrew for his commitment to working with us to implement a more effective and meaningful teacher evaluation system to in these schools. I believe our collaboration on matters like this is critical to student success. UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, This agreement helps lay the groundwork. Now we have to focus on providing the resources these struggling schools need to make a real difference in the lives of their students. In the 33 schools, the DOE and UFT have also jointly agreed to implement a new teacher evaluation system that is aligned with the State’s new teacher evaluation law. The evaluation system in these schools will be based on a four-category rating system of highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective, instead of the current system that simply gives teachers a rating of satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Federal guidelines identify four models for school improvement—a transformation model, a turnaround model, a restart model, and a closure model—each involving different strategies to improve low performing schools. Last year, 11 of these 33 schools were chosen for transformation. Under the transformation model, the principal of the school is generally replaced, and the schools will be able to hire new teachers in the categories Master Teacher and Turnaround Teachers. A Master Teacher working in a PLA school will receive 30% above their base salary and is expected to serve as a mentor for other teachers in the school, working an additional 100 hours per year. A Turnaround Teacher working in a PLA school will receive 15% above their base salary and open their classroom up to other teachers to learn best practices, working an additional 30 hours per year. To remain eligible for either position, teachers must maintain a rating of highly effective. Under the restart model, schools will be teamed with a non-profit educational partner organization (EPO) that will work with the principal and school staff to make recommendations on specific interventions to raise student achievement. This model does not require leadership or staff changes, but also allows for the hiring of master and turnaround teachers. All proposed changes from the EPO will need to conform to collective bargaining agreements. The City will work with the schools over the next week to determine which model suits the 33 schools best. The following is the full list of schools: 02M460 WASHINGTON IRVING HIGH SCHOOL 02M500 UNITY CENTER FOR URBAN TECHNOLOGIES 02M615 CHELSEA CAREER AND TECH ED HS 05M685 BREAD & ROSES INTEGRATED ARTS HIGH SCHOOL 08X405 HERBERT H LEHMAN HIGH SCHOOL 08X530 BANANA KELLY HIGH SCHOOL 09X022 JHS 22 JORDAN L MOTT 09X339 IS 339 09X412 BRONX HIGH SCHOOL OF BUSINESS 10X080 JHS 80 MOSHOLU PARKWAY 10X391 MS 391 10X660 GRACE H DODGE CAREER AND TECH HS 14K126 JOHN ERICSSON MIDDLE SCHOOL 126 14K610 AUTOMOTIVE HIGH SCHOOL 15K136 IS 136 CHARLES O DEWEY 15K429 SCHOOL FOR GLOBAL STUDIES 15K519 COBBLE HILL SCHOOL OF AMERICAN STUDIES 16K455 BOYS & GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL 19K166 JHS 166 GEORGE GERSHWIN 20K505 FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT HIGH SCHOOL 21K540 JOHN DEWEY HIGH SCHOOL 21K620 WILLIAM E GRADY VOCATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL 22K495 SHEEPSHEAD BAY HIGH SCHOOL 32K564 BUSHWICK COMM HIGH SCHOOL 24Q455 NEWTOWN HIGH SCHOOL 24Q485 GROVER CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL 24Q600 QUEENS VOCATIONAL & TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOL 25Q460 FLUSHING HIGH SCHOOL 27Q400 AUGUST MARTIN HIGH SCHOOL 27Q475 RICHMOND HILL HIGH SCHOOL 27Q480 JOHN ADAMS HIGH SCHOOL 30Q445 WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT HIGH SCHOOL 30Q450 LONG ISLAND CITY HIGH SCHOOL