Sunday, June 02, 2013


State Education Commissioner John King has made his decision on NYC teacher evaluations.  We haven't seen the entire ruling yet but readers can see his press release below.

We were fairly certain Commissioner King was not going to issue a ruling favorable to teachers because the new teacher evaluation law is deeply flawed.  Unless he was a wise man who understood how the City is trying to get rid of as many teachers as possible, there truly was very little hope for much to come out of this so called arbitration that teachers would like.

Here is a quote from Chancellor Dennis Walcott, taken from, reacting to King's decision:  "I consider this a major victory for our students and our staff."

Here's a quote from UFT President Michael Mulgrew from a later Gotham piece: "I wanted a plan I thought was fair and more importantly followed the spirit of the law, and I think we have the beginning of that."

A reader can accuse me of selectively quoting but I think one can get the feel for the general sentiments of both sides from Walcott and Mulgrew's words and it's not good for teachers.

The question I have is: Where is the full decision?  It was supposed to be released on June 1.  Instead, all we have are press releases and email reactions. There is a great deal of speculation but we need to see the specific details to maybe find some silver linings in these ominous clouds.

For now this is the biggest part that should keep teachers awake at night:

"Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective 
assessments must be rated ineffective overall. Teachers who are 
developing or ineffective will get assistance and support to improve 
performance. Teachers who remain ineffective can be removed from 

That is from the state's press release.  What it means is if the kids don't do well on whatever assessments they take that teachers are being judged on, it's bye, bye teaching career after two years.  

We already knew from the law that two years of ineffective ratings means a teacher is presumed to be incompetent. In the new 3020a process for termination of tenured teachers, the burden of proof will shift to the teacher to prove he/she is not incompetent.  This is a huge change.  In the current system, the burden of proof is on the Department of Education to prove a teacher is incompetent. (The ICE blog has complained about the UFT supporting this change in law for a long time.)

To put it another way, teachers will be guilty until proven innocent. The law effectively already limited tenure. The whole battle the last couple of years has been to see how easy or difficult it was going to be to get to that stage where a teacher is in a hearing where he/she is presumed to be incompetent. Mulgrew claims there are plenty of due process safeguards.  I hope he is right but I am very skeptical. 

It looks as though the only way a principal can save a teacher is by giving that teacher students to teach who the administration knows will show growth on the tests.

Examining the rest of King's evaluation framework, I don't see much for teachers to be happy about. Teachers will have either a minimum of four to six observations. Therefore, even if the students pass the tests, administration can still rate teachers ineffective.  In addition, student surveys will make up 5% of the annual evaluations.  

We still need to see the final ruling in its entirety to judge this completely but right now I would say people should be very concerned.

To add insult to injury, the UFT looks like it is mostly losing the evaluation war and we didn't even get the two 4% raises that most other city employees received years ago without givebacks. Instead, the UFT is in fact finding awaiting a non binding decision that Bloomberg will more than likely ignore and leave to the next mayor.

We do attempt to be fair here at ICE so here is UFT President Michael Mulgrew's full email to members followed by Commissioner King's press release.

Dear colleagues,

State Education Commissioner John King said New York City “is not going to fire its way to academic success” as he announced this afternoon a new evaluation system for K-12 teachers that will go into effect in September.

The commissioner’s plan is professional and fair and is designed to help teachers improve their skills throughout their careers.  It offers teachers a professional voice in the measures that their supervisors will use to rate them. And despite Mayor Bloomberg’s desire for a “gotcha” system, the new system puts in place stronger due process rights to protect teachers from harassment and from principals who don’t follow the rules. Our biggest concern, given this administration’s terrible track record, is implementation.

The new system came as the result of binding arbitration after the DOE failed to negotiate in good faith with us. In seven months we will have a new mayor, and we’ll have the opportunity in collective bargaining for our next contract to make changes to aspects that aren’t working.

For now, here are five key points about the new evaluation plan that you should know:
  1. Strong due process – Given Mayor Bloomberg’s desire to make teachers ‘at-will employees’ and this DOE’s track record of going after teachers, we fought for and won significant safeguards for you. For the first time, we have an independent panel to review teacher ratings that the union believes are based on principal harassment.  We can identify up to 13 percent of all ineffective ratings each year to challenge on grounds of harassment or other matters not related to job performance.  All teachers who receive an ineffective rating will have the benefit in the following year of an independent validator who will not be in the principal’s pocket. We also fought for and won additional arbitration slots that will allow teachers to challenge the process when they can show that supervisors were not following the rules.
  2. The complete Danielson rubric – Commissioner King ruled, following the UFT’s proposal, that principals must take into consideration all 22 components of the Danielson Framework for Teaching when rating a teacher. The DOE had wanted to cherry-pick only a small fraction – the most difficult ones. That means everything that you do for your students counts towards your rating, including artifacts of student learning and portfolios, planning and preparation, classroom environment and parent engagement strategies.
  3. Meaningful observations – Under this new agreement, teachers will be able to choose the form of observations that they want. One option available to you will require one formal observation, with pre- and post-observation conferences, as well as three informal observations. Teachers can also opt for six informal observations. Under both plans, at least one observation will be unannounced.  After every observation, you should receive written feedback, which is critical if an observation is to help you grow as a teacher and develop your skills.
  4. Teacher Voice - The new system will allow schools and teachers to customize the student learning portion of their evaluations. Each school will have a committee comprised of an equal number of teachers and administrators who will determine, along with the principal, which assessments each school will use. Only if no agreement can be reached at the school level will the default school-wide measures be used.
  5. Student surveys - The new system also includes a pilot of student surveys, which will not be for stakes in 2013-14. Commissioner King’s plan is that the surveys would eventually become 5 percent of the rating for teachers in grades 3-12. Experts have found that student surveys are not valid in high-stakes settings, and we will be looking at this very closely in the months ahead.
The DOE is already trying to spin King's announcement to its advantage. We will be working through Sunday to put together detailed information about the new plan so you’ll have it when you return to school on Monday.

Training the tens of thousands of teachers and administrators in our schools in the new system will not be easy. The Bloomberg administration has failed our schools for more than 11 years, and we can only hope that one of its last acts will be to work with us to implement this new system in the spirit in which it was designed.

Here is the bottom line: The new teacher evaluation system is designed to support, not punish, teachers and to help them develop throughout their careers. That is what we will be fighting for as this plan is implemented.

Michael Mulgrew


New York State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. today released his teacher and principal evaluation plan for New York City.  Legislation enacted earlier this year mandated that King impose an Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plan for any district without an approved plan in place by May 29.  New York City is the only district in the state to fail to meet that deadline.  The APPR plan King announced today will remain in force through the 2016-2017 school year – and under state law, remains in place in perpetuity – unless and until a successor APPR agreement is reached through collective bargaining and is approved by the Commissioner.  King said the plan announced today following submissions and testimony from affected parties, will identify excellence, facilitate high-quality professional development for principals and teachers, and provide each principal with the autonomy to build a strong staff while protecting teachers against arbitrary and capricious actions. 

It's time,” King said.  ”The students have waited too long.  The plan I’m announcing today creates a multiple-measures evaluation system that’s fair for teachers and principals.  More important, it will help improve teaching and learning and give New York City students a much better opportunity to graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and careers. There are strong measures to help remove ineffective teachers and principals, but let’s be clear: New York is not going to fire its way to academic success.  The key to this plan is the training, support and professional development that must be put in place to help teachers and principals improve their practice.”

King congratulated Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan for their successful efforts to reach an agreement on a New York City principal evaluation plan, which is reflected in the plan imposed by the Commissioner.  Pressed and encouraged by the Commissioner throughout the arbitration hearing, both sides made meaningful compromises to reach a negotiated resolution.  King said the agreement will help principals improve their practice and ensure every school in the city is led by an effective leader.

King said, “Over the past 15 months, the real purpose of this evaluation reform has been lost in the drama surrounding the negotiations.  At the end of the day, this is all about helping teachers teach better so students can learn better.  This plan does that.  “The plan gives principals the tools they need to improve instruction in their schools.  It will help struggling teachers and principals get better and help good teachers and principals become great.  The plan builds on the strengths of the evaluation plan previously in place for principals in New York City.  And, for the first time, the City has an evaluation plan that recognizes excellent teachers who can serve as models and mentors for their colleagues.  The challenge is to bring the best teaching practices to every classroom in New York City.   Today, we’ve moved a little closer to that goal.”

In 2009, the New York State Board of Regents launched an ambitious reform agenda focused on the straightforward goal of ensuring all New York State students are prepared for college and career success.  The four pillars of the state's agenda are:

  • Implementing the Common Core standards
  • Building instructional data systems that support student success
  • Recruiting, developing, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers and principals
  • Turning around the lowest-achieving schools
In support of that agenda, in 2010 the Legislature adopted and the Governor signed into law Education Law Section 3012-c, a new law governing teacher and principal evaluations.  In recognition of New York’s leadership in education reform under Board of Regents Chancellor Tisch, the U.S. Department of Education awarded New York a nearly $700 million Race To The Top grant.  Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the teacher and principal evaluation law was amended in 2012 to ensure greater rigor and effective implementation, including a requirement for the Commissioner to approve all evaluation plans (see Attachment A for details).

The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) and its bargaining units failed to meet the statutory January 17, 2013 deadline to fully implement standards and procedures for conducting evaluations and as a result did not qualify for an increase in state aid for the 2012-2013 school year.  The state budget adopted earlier this year required any district that did not have an APPR plan in place on or before May 29, 2013, would have an evaluation plan imposed on it by the Commissioner after a  two-day arbitration proceeding.  Based on extensive evidence and the Commissioner’s judgment as to the best interest of the students in New York City, on June 1, 2013 the Commissioner imposed standards and procedures necessary to fully implement an APPR plan within the district.

Highlights of Commissioner King’s Plan for NYC Teachers:
State Growth
Note: Could increase to 25% if the Board of Regents approves a change to a value added model.
State-provided growth scores in grades 4-8Student Learning Objectives (SLOs)
  • For teachers in core subjects with state assessments, state assessments must be used
  • For teachers in core subjects without state assessments, NYC performance assessments reflective of the Common Core Standards must be used
  • For all other teachers, menu determined by NYSED
  • Student performance targets for SLOs approved by principals with input from teachers
Locally Selected Measures
Note: Could decrease to 15% if the Board of Regents approves a change to a value added model.
NYSED Menu of Options
  • School-based measures of student learning committee (4 members selected by principal, 4 members selected by UFT) to allow for both teacher and administrator input
  • Committee recommends measures to principal from menu determined by NYSED
  • Principal may reject recommendation and apply default school-wide measure
Other Measures: Observation Process60% for K-2 (and 3-12 Teachers in 2013-14)55% for 3-12 Teachers in 2014-15 and beyondDanielson (2013): 22 components must be observed annually via observations and teacher artifactsTeachers will have a choice between two options and indicate which option they have chosen at their initial planning conference in the beginning of the school year:
  • Option 1: (a) min. of 1 formal; (b) min. of 3 informal (at least 1 unannounced)
  • Option 2: min. of 6 informal (at least 1 unannounced)
Teacher may authorize observation by video
Other Measures: Surveys5% for 3-12 Teachers in 2014-15 and beyondTripod Student Surveys in Grades 3-12: City-wide pilot in 2013-14, full implementation in 2014-15 and beyond
AppealsGoverned by Education Law Section 3012-c(5-a)Chancellor’s Appeals:
  • Ineffective only
  • 4 hour maximum per session
  • Year-round (including summer months)
Panel Appeals (harassment or reasons not related to job performance): Limited to 13% of teachers rated ineffective (as determined by UFT)
Streamlined Process to Resolve APPR Compliance Issues15 expedited compliance issue resolution hearing days
  • Exclusive mechanism for resolving APPR procedural compliance issues
  • Shall not be used by an individual teacher to challenge that teacher’s annual professional performance review
Highlights of Commissioner King’s Plan for NYC Principals Imposed With Agreement of NYCDOE and the CSA:
State Growth
Note: Could increase to 25% if the Board of Regents approves a change to a value added model.
State-provided growth scores in schools with grades 4-8State-provided growth scores in high schoolsFor small number of principals without state-provided growth scores: Student Learning Objectives (SLOs)
  • State assessments (where applicable)
  • All others: NYCDOE and CSA collaborative decision-making process with 8/1 deadline; if no decision by 8/1,  NYC performance assessments reflective of the Common Core Standards
Locally Selected Measures
Note: Could decrease to 15% if the Board of Regents approves a change to a value added model.
Selected metrics from the NYC Progress Reports
Rubric for “Other Measures”
  • NYC Quality Review Rubric (2012-13)
  • Two supervisory visits by superintendent or designee (at least 1 unannounced)
  • Ineffective only
  • Hearing officer selected from a panel of experienced educators jointly appointed by NYCDOE and the CSA
  • Hearing officer makes recommendation to Chancellor who makes final decision
The Commissioner’s decision and the posted Review Room plans are scheduled to be available by 8:00 PM this evening.

Requirements of Education Law Section 3012-c (as amended in 2012)
Annual evaluations with regular feedback
  • Required for all teachers and principals
Clear rigorous expectations
  • NY State Teaching Standards
  • Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards for principals
Multiple measures
  • 40% Student Performance (growth on state tests and/or other locally-selected measures)
  • 60% Other (observations, school visits, surveys, etc.):
-       A majority (at least 31 percent) of the 60 percent must be based on classroom observations by a principal or trained administrator.
-       There must be multiple observations and at least one observation must be unannounced.
Multiple Rating Levels
  • Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, Ineffective
  • Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall. Teachers who are developing or ineffective will get assistance and support to improve performance. Teachers who remain ineffective can be removed from classrooms.
Regular Feedback
  • Frequent, ongoing and linked to development opportunities
  • Factors into employment decisions, supplemental compensation
  • Appeals must be timely and expeditious and districts may terminate probationary teachers/principals or grant or deny tenure while an appeal is pending.
  • All evaluation plans are subject to review and approval by the Commissioner to ensure rigor, quality and consistency with standards.
  • The Commissioner has the authority to require corrective action, including the use of independent evaluators, when districts evaluate their teachers positively regardless of students’ academic progress.


reality-based educator said...


Two Februaries ago when Mulgrew and Iannuzzi caved to Cuomo, the change that was made to the test part of the evaluation law was that teachers who showed "zero growth" on that part of the evaluation would be automatically rated "ineffective" overall no matter what.

Now it's teachers who are rated "ineffective" on that part will automatically be rated "ineffective" overall.

My question is, how can King change the criteria arbitrarily like that? And isn't it a good reason to sue?

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that you would have a good case that the evaluation system is not using the same parameters agreed upon by all parties back in February 2012 and therefore should not stand.

ed notes online said...

There comes a time when there is no need to be "fair." The UFT has its massive machine to get out the word about this victory. The leadership has declared war on its own membership.

James Eterno said...

Norm-I think I know this is no victory but just as you put out some ed deformer material (E4E) on Ed Notes, I am putting out the UFT's spin and people can do with it what they like.

Reality Based Educator-King interprets the education law. What we see in his release is his current interpretation of that part of the law. Your question would be better answered by Jeff. I hope he gives it a go.

Chris in Florida said...

I wish you well. We have a similar system in place here in Florida, although testing counts for 50% of your evaluation and if, like me, you teach a non-tested grade/subject your score is taken from a school wide average. Whatever the rating is on your test score subsection becomes your rating overall -- the other 50% (Danielson stuff) has no impact at all.

In other words, my rating for last year was based upon the test scores of students I had never met nor taught, since I had changed schools the previous year.

Principals are finding it nearly impossible to meet the requirements of walkthroughs and observations with pre- and post- conferences so much is being fudged. The promised professional development and support never showed up, of course, and never will due to "budget constraints". They just keep adding more and more ways to get you.

Start planning the farewell parties for all your friends and colleagues, starting with Title I schools where the testing scores are never high enough and never will be under the CCSS assessments.

Polish up your resumes and start training in computer skills or whatever else you need for employment in another profession. Unless you teach upper middle class kids with very supportive parents in elite schools you are soon to be let go from your profession.

We even had a teacher of the year rated ineffective based on the scores of the kids at another school last year -- because she is a primary teacher and her grade isn't tested.

Despite all the high-sounding rhetoric and the mewling of the UFT these evaluation systems were conceived and are designed for one purpose only: to get rid of high-cost, tenured teachers ASAP.

James Eterno said...

Thanks Chris. Not very encouraging but enlightening.

reality-based educator said...


Thanks. I hope Jeff does weigh in on this question, because I would really like to know if King's interpretation of the law - from "zero growth must be rated ineffective" to "ineffective on one part means ineffective overall" - would stand a court challenge. That seems like a seismic shift in APPR, making the test part effectively 100%.


The UFT will try and spin this, but the devil is in the details and it's hard to see how even the most naive teacher will see this evaluation system as a win. Not once this gets up and going and is used as the bludgeon it is meant to be. In 12 Step, vernacular, this is like hitting bottom. Even the most oblivious drunk can't miss the damage from this! The UFT can try and spin, but once the system is up next year and work loads increase 100-fold and everyone is on edge about getting VAMMED or SLO'Ed or Danileson'ed, the spin won't matter.

James Eterno said...

I agree Reality Based Educator

jed said...

One thing I learned over the years from buying new cars- If the dealer is happy when you drive it off the lot, you didn't get a good deal. So, why is Mulgrew so happy if Bloomberg is?

Bottom line:
1. They have more ways to fire us.
2. They can fire us faster.

That's all I need to know.

My sign for the Fair Contracts Rally:

"Teacher Voice"

Sean Ahern said...

Arbitration is done by a third party agreed to by the two disputing parties, right?

If King or individuals selected by King issued this ruling, on what basis can Mulgrew claim that this ruling is the result of an "arbitration?"

Appealing to King after agreement with Bloomberg proved impossible is like the next step in a grievance procedure, just going higher up the management chain. The grievance is pointedly different from an arbitration.

If Mulgrew is misrepresenting the ruling as an arbitration I think this is a vulnerable point worth pressing on. If this misrepresentation can be established it might be a solid first step towards unraveling Unity's spin and alerting the membership to a double cross.

The ruling shows once again that the Unity caucus' triangulation response to the corporate reformers is bankrupt. Cuomo/King is no better than Bloomberg/Walcott but to admit this would call into question Unity's whole game plan, their entire trajectory since the 1968 strike. Better to misrepresent this humiliation as an outcome of an arbitration rather than face the fact that a bully has just taken your lunch money. 'Oh no, I wasn't mugged, It was just a loan.'

I think that we are crossing into new territory here if Unity seeks to incorporate this ruling into the contract for member ratification. Its not just business as usual for UFT Inc.

Contract enforcement was something union members traditionally viewed as serving our interests. If the contract incorporates the rulings of the boss it might as well be a "yellow dog" contract. Its the bosses contract, not ours. The "union" leadership that urges ratification of such crap moves the UFT one step closer to company unionism.

UFT members need a broad based fair contract committee that unites all who can be united with. Its our contract, not the corporate reformers.

GeoKaro said...

It is another one of Mulgrew's delusional statements, as the Titanic starts to sink, aside from his claims that teachers gain in choosing their means of observation/termination, that this is arbitration.

No, it's not arbitration. NYSED is not a labor-management arbitration committee!

Anonymous said...

It looks as though the only way a principal can save a teacher is by giving that teacher students to teach who the administration knows will show growth on the tests.

The opposite is also true. Want to get rid of a teacher, give him/her a class that will not show much growth. Many schools have gone back to tracking. Those with high functioning students are not going to show that much growth in their test scores. Those who are more needy may not either. many of the neediest students have been placed, illegally, in ITC classes - regular ed and special needs students (many of whom are not in the best placement) all lumped together in larger classes than we have seen in recent years.

Also untenured teachers are going to be under the same microscope as tenured teachers. The revolving door is going to get faster. Teachers, as all veterans know, need time to "grow' and learn. Time to try things out, make mistakes and test stratgegies. This evaluation system does not allow for any of that.

As for time, my school was a pilot school. The administrators and the "talent coach" did not have time to doo all the observations and feed back let alone get it all into the computer. Feedback was minimal and usually on paper, not face to face in a sit down collaborative situation.