Sunday, January 17, 2016


In our last post, we criticized the UFT's latest Mulgrew reelection ad, paid for by member dues, for promoting anti-teacher Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Not to be outdone, our statewide union, New York State United Teachers, is spending $1 million to promote the new and improved Cuomo education plan. UFT members pay plenty of dues to NYSUT as well as the UFT.

This NYSUT commercial is as deceptive as the UFT's. NYSUT's even says in one part, "Regents: 4-year halt on using student scores to rate teachers." I almost got sick but instead regained my composure and did some research.

If anyone would like to see what the actual State Education Department regulations say about how teachers will be evaluated this year and for the next few years, just read the SED Q and A (find a link to it on this page) concerning our ratings.

While I found the whole SED document to be written in confusing bureaucratic jargon, I think we can safely conclude that test and punish education policy is alive and well in New York.  It has just shifted a bit in terms of teacher evaluation.

Common Core grade 3-8 scores won't be used for teacher evaluations until 2019 but other tests will still be in there including high school Regents Exams unless they are tied to a state growth model. Does going from a growth model to a Student Learning Objective (SLO) system constitute an end to high stakes testing?  I don't think so.

Footnote 10 in the SED Q & A states:
Teachers with SLOs that are based on Regents assessments will not be impacted and must continue to use SLOs with such assessments.

This is footnote 3 from the Q & A from SED:

Please note that teachers and principals whose APPRs do not include the grades 3-8 ELA and math State assessments or State-provided growth scores on Regents examinations are not impacted by the transition regulations and their evaluations shall be calculated pursuant to their district’s/BOCES’ approved APPR Plan without any changes. For example, a building principal of a CTE program whose APPR utilizes CTE assessments as part of the student performance component of their APPR will not be impacted by the transition regulations.

From my reading of the Q & A, some teachers may get some kind of break from test based ratings for this year but many will not.  Here is an example from SED:

B. High School Regents teacher  
Mr. Jones teaches 3 sections of Living Environment culminating in the Regents assessment with a total student population of 75 (25 students per course section). He also teaches a single section 
of a science elective culminating in a local assessment with student population of 25. Because Mr. Jones’ Living Environment course is his largest course and covers more than 50% of his entire student population, he must write an SLO for this course and is not required to have any additional measures in the State Growth or Other Comparable Measures subcomponent. Because the SLO for the Living Environment course utilizes the Regents assessment as the underlying evidence, it must continue to be used in its entirety for the purposes of calculating the overall composite transition score and rating. Mr. Jones earns 17 out of 20 points. 

For the Locally Selected Measures subcomponent, the district’s approved APPR plan utilizes an achievement measure also based on the Living Environment Regents assessment. Because this measure utilizes the Regents assessment and it is not a State-provided growth score, it must continue to be used in its entirety for the purposes of calculating the overall composite transition score and rating. Mr. Jones earns 15 out of 20 points.
For the Other Measures of Effectiveness subcomponent, the district will assign points based on observations and a structured review of artifacts pursuant to a State-approved practice rubric. Because this subcomponent does not rely on assessments, it must continue to be used in its entirety for the purposes of calculating the overall composite transition score and rating. Mr. Jones earns 56 out of 60 points. 
Mr. Jones earned 17 out of 20 points for the State Growth or Other Comparable Measures subcomponent, 15 out of 20 points for the Locally Selected Measures subcomponent, and 56 out of 60 points for the Other Measures of Effectiveness subcomponent for a total of 88 out of 100 available points. Accordingly, his overall composite transition score is an 88. Using the overall composite scoring bands required by Education Law §3012-c, Mr. Jones receives an overall composite transition rating of Effective. Please note that this is the same score and rating as he will receive pursuant to the approved APPR plan (i.e., his original score and rating) as student achievement measures based on Regents assessments (that are not State-provided growth scores) are not excluded from transition score and rating calculations. 

Seems like not much has changed for Mr. Jones. I am no expert on the current system but I do believe some of us in the city use a growth model so we might get a partial junk science (teacher rating being based on student test scores) reprieve. Unfortunately, it will be no bargain for many to have more weight placed on the "fill in the numbers-cookie cutter" Danielson observation rubric. Also, that junk science relief, if we do get it, won't last long.

For 2016-17 through 2018-19, SED says this about teacher ratings:

In instances where the above would result in no student performance measure for a teacher or principal in either of the subcomponents within the Student Performance Category, districts/BOCES must develop an SLO consistent with the requirements specified in sections 303.4 and 30-3.5 of the Rules of the Board of Regents for teachers and principals, respectively, using assessments approved by the Department that are not 3-8 ELA and math State assessments.12 Such an SLO can include a school- or district-wide measure based on State or Regents assessments other than the grades 3-8 ELA and math assessments or the State-provided growth score for the building. 

I am no genius but I gather from this that "assessments approved by the Department" means student test scores will be used to rate teachers.

On the overall rating, the 50% student test scores plus 50% observations (matrix) will still be used as of the 2016-17 school year.

Please don't ask me if an observation from an administrator outside the school is still part of this.  I didn't see that mentioned in this SED document so I would guess it's still in.

Finally, I don't see anything in any document that says schools won't continue to be rated based on the Common Core tests which means we are still subject to having our schools put into receivership and teachers fired without any due process unless the law is changed.

The only way out of this mess is to scrap all of the education laws passed in New York State since we went after the filthy Race to the Top money and start from scratch. That will require new union leadership at the city and state level to push for it.


Anonymous said...

I believe that the outside evaluators will not start till the next school year as this part of the evaluation was put on hold due to the "waiver" that most school districts applied for and got from the State. I might be wrong on this but I think it is correct.

Rob said...

The link to the APPR transition FAQ is not working. Do you know if it posted online elsewhere? If not, could you email me a copy? (I'm assuming my email address is visible to you with this post, but if not I can give it to you). Thanks

Anonymous said...

The outside evaluators are already here. They started meeting with Assistent Principals this fall. They are pressuring APs to rate teachers much lower. Last year I told the UFT this would happen. The Borough Rep thought it wouldn't. How do these UFT officers not see that the growth scores tacitly count for 100% of our grade? An AP cannot feeisibly give good classroom observation marks to a teacher if the growth scores in the previous year were low. The AP will get scrutinized and harassed.

The selection of one's comparison cohort is not random. The 50 kids are whomever Tweed wants them to be. And, once a teacher's growth scores are low one year, their AP must start rating them lower the following year. This is my experience. I had high observations the first year of APPR, but, had low growth scores. The next year my observation ratings dropped. Yet, my test based scores jumped (I did nothing differently). This year, my observation ratings are up again because last year's test scores were higher.

There is nothing legitimate about this system. The serial correlation between ones observations and one's previous year's growth scores shows that there is a bias which effectively makes HEDI ratings 100% dependent on the arbitrary and capricious growth scores.

Furthermore, Administrator's are filling in the rubric with no quality control. The narratives are wholly disconnected from the HEDI rating. But, nobody is checking that (unless an admin dares give an H for something, then all hell breaks loose).

This system is completely demoralizing. Our observation reports have become utterly useless as a means of improving our instruction. It's time for us to stop signing the reports. I mean all of us. Citywide, to show that we have no faith in this system.

Anonymous said...

By the way, DeBlasio had better pay attention to this. I've seen more teachers quit mid-semester this year than *ever* before. And, many more are getting out in the next few months. This will be the story that the papers put on DeBlasio. They're going to claim teacher churn is because he couldn't keep the schools safe. The real reason is the Governer's APPR is pushing teacher's out. DeBlasio is getting set up.

Anonymous said...

This propaganda is aimed at membership, because they know that most will not be as savvy as James and actually read the text. It's probably the start of a full-out propaganda war with the goal of having DUES PAYERS feel good about their union and not bail out when Frederichs is settled.
The UFT and NYSUTS FIRST priority is their own survival and the income in derives, NOT the interest of NY teachers, as some chumps believe.

James Eterno said...

Sorry Rob. Just email me at for the PDF file of the Q & A.

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