At the state level, the NYSUT lawsuit on evaluations was resolved by today's agreement with the state. 40% of a teacher's annual rating will be based upon student performance on tests, with half of that 40% being standardized tests and the other half being locally developed assessments (whatever that means) that the State Education Department must approve. The other 60% will be based on subjective measures such as principal observations and they can throw in some peer review, parent review or student review if the local district and union want to.
The overall grade to achieve a passing rating for the year will be 65. Scores of 0-64 will result in an ineffective rating, 65-74 will mean a developing rating, 75-90 will mean an effective rating and 91-100 will translate into highly effective. However, if a teacher is rated ineffective in the student test score portion, the teacher cannot get a passing grade. Also, if a principal doesn't like a teacher and does hatchet jobs in observations, it appears to me that huge test score gains will not save the teacher. There are so many ways to fail teachers here.
People say we shouldn't worry because we have tenure but two ineffective ratings in a row shifts the burden of proof onto the teacher to prove that he/she is not incompetent. That will not be easy. One wonders why NYSUT would agree to any of this and not just tell the State to turn down the federal money that we would lose if there was no agreement.
As for New York City, the UFT held out in negotiations with the city for a stronger appeal process for teachers rated ineffective. The DOE walked out of negotiations during the Christmas break and proceeded to announce that they would close most of the transformation-restart schools that were supposed to be the first to use the new evaluation system. The UFT wanted teachers rated ineffective to have a review before an independent arbitrator while the DOE held that teachers should have a review by the Chancellor like the U rating appeal process where teachers lose 99.6% of these appeals.
The compromise that was reached today was, as usual, an almost total capitulation by the union. 13% of teachers rated ineffective can have an appeal before a three person panel. One of the panel members will be chosen by the union, one by DOE and the third person will be selected by the first two. That is truly an independent appeal process but according to President Mulgrew's email to us, "The union can identify up to 13% of all ineffective ratings each year to challenge on grounds of harassment or other matters not related to performance." It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prove harassment if the students didn't succeed on the tests or a teacher's performance in class was rated ineffective by the principal. Also, it is the UFT who decides which teachers get to have their case heard by the independent panel. There will be no favoritism there right? It gets worse.
The other 87% rated ineffective can only appeal to the chancellor just like the current U rating appeal process. One does not need a crystal ball to predict that teachers will continue to have virtually no chance in these hearings. However the UFT says don't worry because, "A teacher who has an ineffective rating the following year will receive an independent validator. (The person is chosen through a joint process and will not be a UFT or DOE employee.) The independent evaluator will observe the teacher at least three times during the school year and issue a report with his or her rating of the teacher."
This process sounds eerily like Peer Intervention Plus to me. In PIP+ people not employed by UFT or DOE observe U rated teachers and basically rubber stamp the U's in most cases. In the new system if the validator agrees that the teacher is not ineffective, then that evidence can be used in a 3020A hearing (tenure process) to help the teacher as the burden of proof would then fall on the DOE but if the validator validates the ineffective rating as they usually do in PIP+, then the teacher would carry the burden of proof in the tenure hearing and the chances of staying on the job will be slim and none in my opinion.
Tenure will be significantly weakened if this evaluation system is finalized. The local assessments and other details still have to be negotiated by the UFT and DOE. A best case scenario is that there will never be an agreement on the local assessments and this whole new evaluation process will then collapse under the weight of its stupidity. What are going to be the assessments for teachers in non regents subjects in the high school for example?
The only way to stop any of this from going into effect is for us to raise our collective voices loudly and say that we're not going to voluntarily walk into the guillotine. If today's agreement becomes our actual teacher evaluation system, then there will more than likely be massive teacher firings beginning in 2014.
If there is anything positive to take from today's events, it's that President Mulgrew was there with the governor announcing the deal and maybe they are developing the kind of bond we can use to influence the state to pass legislation to end mayoral control now before the school system is completely destroyed.
PS-For those expecting our monthly Delegate Assembly report, I was stuck on the platform waiting for the 7 train for a long time yesterday, as a train was stuck one station ahead, so I missed most of the DA. The resolutions that passed were not controversial and some of the Presidents' report, I am told, was about the evaluation issue so I am skipping doing a report which today is obsolete. If anyone else wants to do it, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post it.