Letter To Members On Ratings


The following is from a UFT Chapter Leader to the members with important and useful information regarding the “Advance” ratings that NYC teachers received in their NYC DOE email. 

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you had a restful and fulfilling summer away from Danielsons and MOSLs and Common Core.

The coming school year will present many unique challenges for us. We will start the school year most likely not even knowing how we will be evaluated. The city has until October to decide if it wants to implement the state’s new evaluation plan passed last school year or delay it. (http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/09/01/with-school-year-set-to-begin-teachers-dont-know-yet-how-they-will-be-rated/)

Furthermore, an expected spate of teachers rated “ineffective” and “developing” around the city ensures we will be hearing stories about appeals and Teacher Improvement Plans for the next 12 months.

If you do not know what your rating is yet for the year, it was sent to your DOE email.

For teachers who received a rating of “effective” or “highly effective”, there is essentially no difference between the two aside from teachers rated “highly effective” being entitled to one less class observation.

As you know, only teachers rated “ineffective” overall can hope to appeal and only 13% of the teachers who apply for an appeal will get one. It is the type of Byzantine system that can only be forged by politicians who have never taught a day in their lives.

For teachers who received a rating of “developing”, the first order of business is the Teacher Improvement Plan (TIP). The UFT has a nice resource in helping guide you through the TIP process: http://www.uft.org/teaching/teacher-improvement-plan-guidance

A Teacher Improvement Plan is exactly what it sounds like. It is a plan put into place at the start of the school year to help guide your practice the rest of the way. The TIP process is not a one-way street. You are entitled to input into what your TIP looks like every step of the way.

On the Tuesday we return to work, I would like to meet with every teacher who received a “developing” rating individually. Please let me know as soon possible if you received a “developing” so I know exactly how many of you I have to meet.

The key to remember about the TIP is that it is a specific plan with specific suggestions for your specific subject and specific circumstances. At the end of the day, it should give you actionable advice on how to improve on your Danielson score from last year. Each bit of actionable advice should relate to a specific component of the Danielson rubric.

Do not let administrators get away with cut-and-paste jobs. As much as they might be overworked like we are, formulating thoughtful improvement plans for teachers is part of their job description, especially when they dispense low ratings.

It will be wise to remember the words sent out in May regarding eliciting specific feedback from administrators:

1)  Have a note-taking apparatus out and clearly show that you are taking down EVERYTHING the admin says. Even say things like, “I just want to make sure I have this right (and repeat back what the admin says).” You might want to defend yourself, but it has worked to the teachers’ benefit to say things like, “I hear what you’re saying… you’re saying that .(repeat back).” And even invite the admin to clarify instructional specifics/ suggestions. It is the admin’s job to do this. The conversation could even lead to a request for the admin to provide a model lesson.

2) After you receive your written TIP, make note of areas that might seem vague or unrealistic.  You can make a chart with a left column of quotes from the TIP and then write your responses/questions to the right.

3) Show the TIP to the Chapter Leader or any other colleague you trust to get their feedback. It never hurts to have a pair of fresh eyes look at things. They can pick up on things you might have missed.

You also have the right to request my presence at any meeting you have with administration regarding your TIP. The agreement is clear about this, although it only guarantees the right to “request”. When in doubt, always request I be there.

It is natural to feel frustrated with unfair ratings. Make no mistake about it, this entire evaluation regime is unfair and asinine. We are being evaluated on exam scores of students we never taught in subjects we never teach. The equations and formulas used to calculate “growth” and “value added” would baffle a NASA engineer. Even the Danielson portion of the system, with different parts of the rubric being weighted differently, is a black box.

We deserve better. Our students deserve better. This letter gives vent to the frustration felt by many teachers. It is an open letter to Chancellor Farina from our friend Arthur Goldstein who is the chapter leader at Francis Lewis High School about how flawed this system really is:




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