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Petition to Repeal NYS Teacher Evaluation Laws 3012-c and 3012-d
We must return teacher evaluation to local districts free from state mandates by repealing New York State Education Laws 3012-c and 3012-d.
- Evaluating teachers based on student results on tests and other student assessments that were never designed to rate educators is neither a scientifically or educationally sound way to be used for a Measure of Student Learning portion of a teacher's rating.
- The Measure of Teacher Practice portion of teacher evaluations is subjective and highly unfair, particularly in NYC where the Danielson Framework has been used not to help teachers grow as professionals but as a weapon to frighten teachers into teaching to score points on arbitrary rubrics in multiple unnecessary classroom observations.
Why we are starting this petition?
The teacher evaluation system in NYS is broken beyond repair. NYS passed a flawed evaluation system into law in order to receive federal Race to the Top funds. However, the current version of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act no longer requires states to rate teachers in part based on student test results to receive federal funds. Rating teachers on student exam scores is not recommended by the American Statistical Association as it is not a reliable way to measure teacher performance yet in New York we only have a moratorium on using standardized tests to rate certain teachers. Teachers are still rated on tests and other assessments that were never designed to rate teachers. The Measures of Student Learning portion of teacher ratings is highly unreliable. Many call it "junk science."
NYS ELA tests cannot measure student progress under any particular standard.From a statistical standpoint, a handful of questions per standard is not a statistically sound measure of a student’s mastery of that standard. Additionally, test passages that are on, above or even slightly below grade level cannot measure the progress of a struggling reader who enters a class two to four years below grade level. These tests cannot measure the progress of newcomers to our country who are learning English as a new language. It takes many years for newcomers to master the nuances of the English language. In effect, students such as these described above can make more than a year’s worth of progress and yet still not show progress on the NYS ELA due to the text complexity of all test passages.
The Measure of Teacher Practice portion of teacher ratings in New York City is based on the Danielson Framework whose creator, Charlotte Danielson, said this about teacher evaluation in Education Week:
"There is ...little consensus on how the profession should define "good teaching." Many state systems require districts to evaluate teachers on the learning gains of their students. These policies have been implemented despite the objections from many in the measurement community regarding the limitations of available tests and the challenge of accurately attributing student learning to individual teachers.
"Even when personnel policies define good teaching as the teaching practices that promote student learning and are validated by independent research, few jurisdictions require their evaluators to actually demonstrate skill in making accurate judgments. But since evaluators must assign a score, teaching is distilled to numbers, ratings, and rankings, conveying a reductive nature to educators' professional worth and undermining their overall confidence in the system.
"I'm deeply troubled by the transformation of teaching from a complex profession requiring nuanced judgment to the performance of certain behaviors that can be ticked off on a checklist. In fact, I (and many others in the academic and policy communities) believe it's time for a major rethinking of how we structure teacher evaluation to ensure that teachers, as professionals, can benefit from numerous opportunities to continually refine their craft."
The Danielson Rubric describes an ideal classroom setting and was never intended to be used as an evaluative tool against teachers. Examples: A rubric that rates a teacher "developing" when he/she "attempts to respond to disrespectful behavior among students, with uneven results" (Danielson 2a) is not a fair rubric. A rubric that rates a teacher ineffective because "students' body language indicates feelings of hurt, discomfort, or insecurity" (Danielson 2a) having nothing to do with how that particular teacher treats her particular students is not a fair rubric for teacher evaluations. Teachers do not just teach emotionally well-adjusted children from idyllic families and communities. We teach all kinds of children who live under various conditions. These conditions have a major impact on the emotional well-being of children.
Children experiencing emotional distress due to factors beyond their teachers' control quite often have trouble concentrating in class yet to be considered "highly effective" under Danielson, Virtually all students are intellectually engaged in the lesson." We teach children with selective mutism and other speech and language and learning disabilities yet Danielson doesn't take this into account. Students' emotions have an impact on their academics, and students' emotions are impacted by many factors beyond any teacher's control such as homelessness, marital stress in their home or divorce, loss of employment of a caregiver, physical or emotional abuse, mental illness, bullying outside of their classroom, personal illness or illness of a loved one and many other factors too numerous to list. Holding a teacher accountable for these factors that are beyond a teacher's control is not reasonable and yet that is what some of the components under Danielson demand.
Teachers in NY are frustrated and demoralized by a teacher evaluation system that has robbed us of our professionalism.
We demand an end to this absurdity. We demand that NYS change its education laws so teachers can return to the practice of seeing their students as human beings who are so much more than a test score or a robot that must adhere to absurd requirements under the Danielson Rubric in order for their teacher to be judged "effective" or "highly effective." NYS has created an adversarial relationship between students and their teachers and this absurdity must end now.
Teachers have no confidence in the evaluation system that reduces teacher worth into a meaningless series of numbers and letters. Teachers in NYC fear classroom observations are not being used to help them grow professionally, but instead teachers must teach to try to score points on Ms. Danielson's often misused framework.
In NYC, there is a climate of fear in the classroom which does not lead to improved teacher practice. Four observations per year for veteran teachers is excessive. One per year or every other year is sufficient for the vast majority of veteran teachers. Ms. Danielson stated in Education Week that after three years in the classroom, teachers become part of a "professional community" and should be treated as such.
Personnel policies for the teachers not practicing below standard—approximately 94 percent of them—would have, at their core, a focus on professional development, replacing the emphasis on ratings with one on learning.
We agree. To get there we must first repeal Education Law 3012-c and 3012-d and return teacher evaluation to local districts, free from state mandates.