Gov. Andrew Cuomo
The state of New York is working to keep federal education funding, and may now have a compromise when it comes to teacher evaluations.
The agreement, made between Gov. Andrew Cuomo, State Education Department (SED) Commissioner John King and United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi, would usher in a new statewide teacher evaluation system that, according to a release sent out by the state Feb. 16, “will make New York state a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement.”
“I'm happy that a settlement has been reached so we (the teachers and the district) can continue work on the evaluation system we have been diligently trying to finish,” Willsboro Central School Teachers Association President Keith Stone said. “We support high standards for teachers and accountability is a way to make that happen.”
School Superintendent Stephen Broadwell agreed that a new evaluation system could bring a new look at education.
“Any time that we have an opportunity to talk about education, it helps everything,” Broadwell said. “Ultimately, the goal is to help student achievement down the road.”
Under the agreement, evaluations would consist of two main parts. In the first, 60-percent of a teacher's evaluation would be based on teacher performance. A majority of the teacher performance points will be based on classroom observations by an administrator or principal, with at least one observation to be unannounced. The remaining points will be based upon defined standards including observations by independent trained evaluators, peer classroom observations, student and parent feedback from evaluators, and evidence of performance through student portfolios
In the second part, 40 percent of the evaluation would be based on student academic achievement, with 20 percent from state testing and 20 percent from a list of three testing options including state tests, third party assessments/tests approved by the SED and locally developed tests that would be subject to SED review and approval.
Under the plan, school districts will also have the option of using state tests to measure up to 40 percent of a teacher's rating.
Broadwell said that he was still looking to learn more about the process.
“We are going to be looking for the remainder of the details,” Broadwell said. “We are still under negotiation with the teachers to implement this, and once we get the details, then we will go back with the Teachers Association to iron out those details.”
The agreement follows through on the state's commitment to put in place a teacher evaluation system, a condition of the $700 million granted through the federal “Race to the Top” program.
“This agreement is exactly what is needed to transform our state's public education system, and I am pleased that by working together and putting the needs of students ahead of politics we were able to reach this agreement," Cuomo said.
“The goal is and always has been to help students and to give them every opportunity to succeed in college and careers,” King said.
“The settlement also reinforces how important it is for teachers to have a voice in establishing standards of professional effectiveness and in developing evaluations that meet the needs of local communities,” Iannuzzi said.