Andrew Cuomo New York Teacher Evaluations

Carol Burris: Néw York Plans to Double the Stakes on VAM

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Governor Andrew Cuomo was very disappointed when only 1% of teachers were found “ineffective” in their state ratings. He demanded tougher evaluations, using the “value-added model” whose validity has been questioned by many research groups, including the American Statistical Association, the American Education Research Association, and the National Academy of Education.

In this post, high school principal Carol Burris reports that the chairperson of the state Board of Regents, Merryl Tisch, responded to Governor Cuomo’s piqué by offering to double the importance of test scores in teacher evaluations.

Burris cites the example of fourth grade teacher Sheri Lederman, who was rated highly effective one year, then ineffective the next year. Her students performed twice as well as the state average–both years. Lederman is suing the state.

Burris writes:

“Sheri Lederman, is a gifted and beloved fourth-grade teacher in Great Neck, New York. Her principal adores her and relies on her to help mentor her colleagues. Over twice as many of her students have met the state standard than the average percentage for the rest of the state. Sheri is also a scholar. She received the 2012 H. Alan Robinson Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation award for her research on how 10-year-olds learn science. Yet her growth score based on the results of student Common Core standardized tests found her to be an “ineffective” teacher.

“Under the present teacher evaluation system in New York, known as APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review), she is not in danger of losing her job. She was rated effective overall due to the points she received on the local measure of her students’ achievement, combined with those based on the observation of her teaching. But that will change if Chancellor Merryl Tisch has her way. Sheri would be rated ineffective overall, and one more such rating would get her fired.

“The short version of what she [Tisch] wants to do now is this—double down on test scores and strip away the power of local school boards to negotiate the majority of the evaluation plan. Tisch would get rid of the locally selected measures of achievement, which now comprise 20 percent of the evaluation, and double the state test score portion, to 40 percent. She also recommends that the score ranges for the observation process be taken out of the hands of local districts, and be determined by Albany instead. Dr. Lederman, start packing up. Merryl Tisch and Andrew Cuomo, whom you have never met, know your talents better than your local school board, your principal and the parents of the children you teach.”

We will watch Sheri Lederman’s lawsuit. How can the state justify rating her “ineffective” based on her students’ outstanding test scores? The formula makes no sense.

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