June 16, 2014
By Stephanie West
Albany, NY – There is a NYSUT supported bill being negotiated with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York’s teachers union. The legislation will change the state’s teacher evaluation law and both Democrats and Republicans want to address this issue.
New York State United Teachers President Karen McGee said in a radio interview on Friday June 13th she was optimistic that a deal would be reached before the legislative session ends. McGee said that the union and state officials have found common ground on some of the concerns that teachers have been raising. Under New York State regulations teacher ratings include the results of their student's standardized test scores.
Clearly there were issues with the rollout by the State Education Department when the procedure for evaluating teachers was developed and implemented by SED. NYSUT is arguing that scores from the past two years of standardized tests shouldn’t be used to evaluate teachers since the rollout of the Common Core Curriculum by the State Education Department was mishandled. In addition, the fairness of evaluating teachers using the tougher state English and math tests is an issue since little information was available to prepare students for these more difficult standardized tests. Tests count for 20 of 100 points that make up a teacher evaluation throughout the state. In some districts they count for more points above the 20. The remaining component of a teacher rating is based largely on principal observations.
NYSUT is focusing only on the points of the rating that are affected by the new tests. Cuomo has agreed that the law should be tweaked for teachers because of flaws with the way Common Core was being implemented. But there is still some disagreement over when the test scores should matter in teacher evaluations.
Also under discussion is what would replace state test scores if that part of evaluations is discounted.
The NYSUT supported bill would give teachers a rating based solely on a principal’s observations during the past two years. That goes against the state’s Race to the Top goal of evaluating teachers based on some measure of student learning. However, since SED did not prepare school districts and teachers for the Common Core testing program adequately, there needs to be temporary adjustments by SED for the past two years.
If the bill passes, the changes won’t affect the majority of teachers in New York State. There would be a small number of educators that would be protected against termination since 6 percent of teachers were rated “ineffective” on that part of their evaluation that they may have been unfairly scored.