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With summer break nearing, race is on to fill in evaluation details

Beyond the wins and losses on the city’s new teacher evaluation plans, there are questions — and only a short period of time before school staffs disperse for the summer in which to answer them.

With school ending in just a few weeks, just when are teams of teachers supposed to choose each school’s local assessments, a process that State Education Commissioner John King said must be complete by the first day of classes in September? How will principals whose schedules are already packed add multiple additional observations of each teacher to their calendar? What the heck are Student Learning Objectives?

The Department of Education and United Federation of Teachers have each launched breakneck information campaigns to start chipping away at these questions, even as officials are still trying to nail down some of the answers themselves.

This month’s “Children’s First Intensive” for network leaders, taking place in three sessions this week, is geared at “giving people an overview of the commissioner’s decision so that they can in turn help answer questions for folks at schools,” Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky said today.

Teachers will get their first official look at what the evaluation system means for them on Thursday, when schools are closed to students for the teacher training day formerly known as Brooklyn-Queens Day. Teachers and other educators said their schools had already planned to focus on a subset of the Danielson Framework, the evaluation tool that principals will use when observing teachers.

“Network and cluster teams and superintendents will begin to receive training on Tuesday, and this week principals will also receive resources that they can begin to share with staff on Thursday’s professional development day,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott told principals in an email sent early Monday morning.

The email outlines several training sessions that the department has planned for between now and the beginning of the school year. Meetings for teachers and school staff that superintendents will hold in each borough starting next week are already at capacity, except for one on Staten Island.

Later this month, teachers will get training straight from consultants who work with the Danielson Group, and Danielson consultants will also train teams of teachers from each school over the summer. That will happen at the same time that the Department of Education’s Office of Teacher Effectiveness and Academics plans to train larger school teams on the intricacies of the evaluation system.

And teachers whose schools participated in the city’s three-year Teacher Effectiveness Pilot, which department officials have said helped teachers improve, will share their experiences with colleagues from other schools over the summer as well.

The department has budgeted $100 million in additional spending on training around the evaluation system and the Common Core learning standards, which went into effect this year. It has also created an email address devoted solely to questions about teacher evaluations, according to Walcott’s letter.

At the UFT, union officials worked through the weekend to understand the plan, then dispatched district representatives to schools starting Monday to explain the plan as best as they could. Each representative is visiting two to three schools a day this week, according to the union.

Members of the UFT’s Teacher Evaluation Committee, a group of about 150 union members who have met periodically to advise the union during negotiations, attended a meeting at the union’s headquarters on Monday afternoon.

The meeting started with an overview of the 60 percent of teachers’ ratings that will be based on subjective measures such as observations, according to a teacher who was there. Union officials broke down, point by point, where King had sided with the union’s position, where he had not, and what each decision’s possible implications are. Then a union lawyer explained the new appeals and arbitration process for teachers who want to challenge their ratings or the process by which they were awarded. And then several other officials discussed the measures of student learning that will be introduced at schools.

Overall, the teacher said, the mood was “curious and cautious,” and union officials said there were as many questions and answers, especially about the 40 percent of ratings that will be based on different measures of student learning.

Polakow-Suransky said that while the evaluation system’s many details might feel daunting, the department’s objective is to reduce the 241-page evaluation plan to a manageable set of action items for educators in each school.

“It’s so much detail and so much new information that it feels more overwhelming in the abstract than it will in practice,” he said. “We’re going to create tools that will make it smoother and more user-friendly.”

Walcott’s full letter to principals is below:

Dear Colleagues,

This weekend, New York State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. announced a new plan for teacher and principal evaluation and development in New York City. This advancement, which finalizes the elements established in education law 3012-c, helps establish more robust and instructionally valuable systems based on multiple measures that will support you in growing your practice in pursuit of our collective goal—ensuring that all students graduate college and career ready.

The model Commissioner King adopted for teachers builds upon the practices that many of you have experienced through your school’s implementation of the citywide instructional expectations and teacher effectiveness pilots. In the plan, you will see some familiar practices, such as using the Danielson Framework for Teaching, and some new ones, such as setting up a school-based committee to inform the local measures of student learning component of a teacher’s evaluation. For principals, the new system is similar to the current model.

In preparation for this announcement, my team has been preparing an array of professional development opportunities for teachers and principals to learn more about the new teacher evaluation and development system, and I encourage you to take advantage of the trainings outlined below. Opportunities for principals to learn more about the principal evaluation and development system, which reflects our successful efforts to reach an agreement with the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, will be shared in next week’s Principals’ Weekly. Network and cluster teams and superintendents will begin to receive training on Tuesday, and this week principals will also receive resources that they can begin to share with staff on Thursday’s professional development day.

Please keep in mind that these new systems are comprehensive, and as my team and I continue to review the details we will be in frequent contact, with support from your network and superintendent, to provide further explanation and additional resources.

Target Audience

Session Content

Led by

When

Registration Information

All teachers and school leaders

District-based info session on the new teacher evaluation and development system

Superintendents

Beginning June 10

Click here; note that space is limited

All teachers

Professional development on the Framework for Teaching

Danielson Group, which provides training on theFramework for Teaching

June 15 and

June 22

Click here; note that space is limited

2-3 teachers per school (identified by principal)

Professional development on the Framework for Teaching

Danielson Group

July and August

Unique borough/cluster specific registration links sent to principals

School teams: principal, assistant principal, UFT chapter leader or designee, 1-2 additional teachers

Full-day training on the new teacher evaluation and development system

Offices of Teacher Effectiveness and Academics

July and August

Unique borough/cluster specific registration links sent to principals

All teachers and school leaders

Borough-based sessions focused on use of theFramework

DOE educators who participated in Teacher Effectiveness Pilot

July and August

Click here; note that space is limited

All teachers

School-based professional development on the new teacher evaluation and development system

Principals

June to September

School-specific

In addition, support is available online and through e-mail:

  • A new evaluation support help desk is available to answer questions that arise as your school begins to understand and implement the new expectations and processes. Please consult with your principal or network before contacting the help desk.
  • Extensive professional development resources on the Danielson Framework are available on ARIS Learn; to date, more than 30,000 teachers have accessed these resources, which can be utilized individually or in teams.
  • The Teacher Effectiveness page on the DOE’s website will continue to provide updates.

Adjusting to these new systems will take time, practice, and collaboration. This work will not be easy, but as you know, it is very important. As educators, you possess the power to change students’ lives for the better, and it’s critical that you receive support to prepare students for success in our schools and beyond.

As you process this information, my team and I will continue to be in touch. I thank you for the work you have done this school year and the work that is still to come.

Sincerely,

Dennis M. Walcott

To: All Teachers, All Principals

Cc: Cluster Leaders, Network Leaders, Superintendents, Central HQ

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