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The New York State Education Department released educator evaluation results on February 26, and once again, the overwhelming majority of teachers received effective or highly effective ratings. State officials were deeply disappointed by the overwhelmingly positive results. They seem to operate under the assumption that poor test results must be caused by “bad” teachers, and that their evaluation program should identify them so they may be fired.
The SED found that:
The final evaluation results show more than 95 percent of teachers statewide are rated effective (54 percent) or highly effective (42 percent); 4 percent are rated as developing; 1 percent are rated ineffective. Ninety-four percent of principals are rated effective (66 percent) or highly effective (28 percent).
The results were somewhat different in New York City, which used a plan imposed by then-State Commissioner John King:
New York City, whose evaluation plan was imposed by former Commissioner King when the New York City Department of Education could not reach agreement on the terms of the evaluation plan with the teachers union, showed greater differentiation than most districts in the State. Although New York City teachers and principals were evaluated on the same overall subcomponents as the rest of the State, the three subcomponents used different scoring ranges to determine the subcomponent rating categories (i.e., Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, Ineffective). Less than 10 percent of teachers in the city are rated Highly Effective, while 83 percent are rated Effective, 7 percent are Developing and 1 percent are Ineffective.
The leader of the state Board of Regents expressed disappointment at the high proportion of teachers found to be effective or highly effective:
“The ratings show there’s much more work to do to strengthen the evaluation system,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said. “There’s a real contrast between how our students are performing and how their teachers and principals are evaluated. The goal of the APPR process is to identify exceptional teachers who can serve as mentors and role models, and identify struggling teachers to make sure they get the help they need to improve. The evaluation system we have now doesn’t do that. The ratings from districts don’t reflect the struggles our students face to achieve college and career readiness. State law must be changed to build an evaluation system that supports teaching and learning in classrooms across the State. Our students deserve no less.”
Chancellor Tisch, like Governor Cuomo, assumes that the proportion of students getting low scores should somehow be matched by a similar proportion of low-rated teachers. It would be useful if Chancellor Tisch and Governor Cuomo reviewed two basic documents: the American Statistical Association statement on the uses and misuses of value-added measurement (VAM) and the joint statement of the National Academy of Education and the American Educational Research Association. It is unfortunate that the Board of Regents and the Governor proceed without regard to research on the effects of out-of-school and in-school factors that affect test scores. Were they to familiarize themselves with the two documents cited, they might develop a very different action plan, one that helps both students and teachers.