Teacher Evaluation Deal – It’s Political

December 24, 2016 — 5 Comments

Looking through the UFT’s guide to the new NYC teacher evaluation system, I find myself wondering how it’s being read by educators coming from schools that vary widely in terms of educator autonomy, pedagogical philosophy and levels of trust between administration and staff. We are being told that our evaluation system will require our full comprehension and maintenance of: measures of teacher practice observation option selection forms, evaluator forms, consistent update of class lists/rosters, observation options A, B, C, D, the Matrix, and MOSL options (project based learning assessments, student learning inventories, performance based assessments, and progress monitoring assessments), not to mention how this plays out for what people teach (elementary/middle/high school, alternative assessment, English as a New Language, content areas, etc).

It is easily overwhelming. We are still figuring out the last evaluation system and living through the most rapidly changing succession of teacher evaluations in history. The truth is, we are being led by our tails. There are only two things to know:

1)  We should be upset, very upset. These were closed negotiations that, yet again, involved very little, if any, teacher input in the discussion of a system that is purporting to improve student achievement. It should not be considered normal for dues paying members to be handed a deal without having any democratic process for input. Any active teacher working with students could explain the complexities of the work we do, including factors that are not in our control and which cannot be measured and quantified. This lack of teacher voice leads to the continual and misguided reliance on the use of invalid metrics we know as the value added model.

2) Teacher evaluations based on metrics with any high stakes involvement is all about perpetuating a lean production model that narrows our teaching and students’ learning. The corporate education reform agenda initiated its systematic attack on public schools by casting its teachers as the source of the problem. Our union leadership, in an effort to placate this aggressive attack on our profession, used the only strategy it knows: attempting to throw its weight around the proverbial table. Pandering  to the notion of teacher evaluation based on unfounded formulas of value added models, and doing this without acknowledging the casualties of the systemic attack thus far, is unacceptable.

The 240,000 opt outs across New York State triggered a move towards the current moratorium on the use of state standardized tests, not the negotiating of the UFT leadership as they often like to credit themselves with. The reason ENL teachers are still evaluated using the Common Core aligned NYSESLAT and teachers of students who get alternative assessments are evaluated by that is because there has not been a high percentage of opt outs for those tests.

In regard to the MoTP portion of our evaluation, please read James Eterno’s ICE Blog piece on the matter. We now have two more required observations in our agreement for tenured teachers beyond the two required by state law and practiced in most districts. In a climate of high stakes where many, if not most, of New York City’s teachers experience observations as “gotcha” opportunities for administrators to intimidate and demoralize, the increase does not promote space for continual growth in teaching practice.

It does not matter what MOSL option we choose- it becomes distorted when stakes are attached. Using performance based assessments or any tools we use to drive instruction for our students a huge problem! What kind of metric for teacher value will be attached to our authentic forms of assessment? How will they- those designated to make up the arbitrary percentages- determine the scores and how much value will be added?

As we already know, this evaluation deal has nothing to do with improving outcomes for our students but everything to do with creating a system that breaks us and our union to further the privatization agenda. It is political. This is not just a criticism of our leadership’s practices; this is a proposal to engage rank and file members in the process before it is truly too late.

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5 responses to Teacher Evaluation Deal – It’s Political

  1. 

    To me, the most disgusting fact is that we have more than the legally required 2 observations for tenured teachers. Almost every single district in NYS is going with 2 observations. The UFT might think that the rank and file are idiots but the word is getting out very fast that we got sold out on having to have at least 4 observations. When Unity folks come to make the rounds at my school, they will be facing a table full of unhappy teachers asking why the UFT agreed to 4 observations. (I wonder what the city was offering behind these closed door negotiations but that info is not FOILable.

  2. 

    Lack of teacher input has always been a problem. Is there someplace you have set out your idea of what should go into teacher evaluations?

  3. 

    Absolutely correct: little to do with children and what they need the most-especially the children who need the most. This is why those who know first hand what we need in the classroom to serve those most needy children are mostly shut out of talks about how to craft standards, tests evaluations… “The 240,000 opt outs across New York State triggered a move towards the current moratorium on the use of state standardized tests, not the negotiating of the UFT leadership as they often like to credit themselves with.” is the perfect quote. So eager to take all the credit they can. What is up w/Mulgrew? Is he still hissing and spitting and threatening bodily harm to anyone trying to take “our” common core away? Very informative piece-thanks, and are you on twitter? I’m @dmaxmj, NY teaching for almost 20 years, looking for more info on teaching and parenting in the city while navigating “school choice” rhetoric and reality. Any help you can give would be great, and Merry Xmas

  4. 

    the sadly perfectly stated truth: “…this evaluation deal has nothing to do with improving outcomes for our students but everything to do with creating a system that breaks us…”

  5. 

    alternate assessment

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