New York Teacher Evaluations

A Teacher in Long Island Writes to Regent Roger Tilles

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This arrived in my email box. I hope Regent Tilles, a member of the New York Board of Regents, reads it before he votes on the Governor’s flawed and punitive teacher evaluation program.
Dear Regent Tilles,

I am writing to you to share my own experience as a teacher in the hopes that you’ll see how absurd basing teacher evaluations on test scores can be.

Before I reveal my state growth score, let me give you some figures. After all, in any other job in the world, you are judged on performance. And Common Core is supposed to be about getting our students college and career ready, two places where they will be judged on performance. So after my principal gave me my state growth score, I decided to take a look at how my students actually performed on the state ELA test.

I had 31 students take the state ELA test. I am not going to count one student and his Level 1 score based on the fact that on the Part 1, he simply filled in A for each question in column 1 of the answer sheet, B for each question in column 2, C for each question in column 3, and D for each question in column 4 (that alone should be enough to see the flaws in having a test-based evaluation). 14 of my 30 students scored at Level 3. That’s 46.7%. 7 of my 30 scored at Level 4. That’s 23.3%. 70% of my students scored Level 3+4. The percents for the entire grade level in my building were 26% Level 3, 15% Level 4, 41% Level 3+4. In the regional scores given to us by BOCES, 42% of the students on my grade scored on Level 3+4. Other than the SED, anyone would look at my numbers and say not only did I do my job, I did it very well.

Here’s another way to look at the results. My students accounted for 27.5% of those who took the test on my grade level, but they accounted for 48.3% of our Level 3 scores and 43.8% of our Level 4 scores. Let me say that again. My students were a little more than 1/4 of all those on my grade level in my building who took the test and yet I accounted for nearly 1/2 the Level 3 and 4 scores.

Based on that data, the question I have is, “Did I do my job? Was I an effective teacher?” Well if I were a school myself, my percentage of students meeting state standards, 70%, would rank me 8th in all of the county.

So now the big reveal. What was my state growth score based on these fantastic results? A 20 out of 20? At least a 16 out of 20? No, I was a 1 out of 20. Yes, a 1. 70% of my students met state standards, yet based on the ridiculous growth formula SED uses that no one really understands, I was deemed to be an Ineffective teacher. Thankfully, my bosses recognize the job I do and due to my score on my observations and our local 20%, my overall score is enough to rate me Effective (barely).

I hope my situation shows just how deeply flawed a test-based teacher evaluation system is, and that you will do everything possible to make sure we eliminate it. I have no problem being evaluated. Contrary to what the governor may think, he did not create the teacher evaluation system. I have been evaluated every year during my 22-year career. All the governor and our legislators have done is create a system that simply DOES NOT WORK. I’m asking for your help in fixing it.

Sincerely,

A proud teacher beginning his 23rd year

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