The New Evaluation System: Teachers and Students are More than a Test Score


State Education Commissioner King has imposed a new teacher evaluation plan that reduces each year of our teaching to a single number based largely on students’ test scores. Up to 10%  of teachers statewide may face “ineffective” ratings.

“Measures of Student Learning”:

  • Twenty points = “growth scores” measuring changes in our students’ standardized test scores
  • Twenty points =  “local measures” determined by a school UFT/administration committee from a DOE menu, subject to a principal’s veto.

Eventually, the “growth scores” section will be 25 points and “local measures” 15 points.

“Measures of Teacher Performance”:

  • Sixty points = based on observations using the Danielson rubric

Under the new rules, if you get rated “ineffective” on the Measures of Student Learning then you automatically get a rating of “ineffective” overall. In this twisted system 40% is greater than 60%[1]

Testing will balloon rapidly as the city needs to implement tests in every grade level. New Common Core exams will expand even though the state has yet to provide a full curriculum. Furthermore, under the new Common Core-system tests question content is proprietary to Pearson or other private test developers. Teachers now are unable to properly review old test questions with students, leaving them less prepared for the state tests.

“Measures of Teacher Performance” will be based on the Danielson framework.  This overrides our contract in three important ways.

Current Contract Danielson
Section 8J points to “characteristics of good teaching” in which teachers are judged on behaviors of the teacher. Teachers evaluated on rubrics that judge us not just by our own behavior, but by the “body language” of our students.
Under article 8J, satisfactory tenured teachers can to set their own goals and methods for demonstrating professional growth,” and can request a one-to-one preobservation conference. No such option exists and we are now required to have unannounced informal observations
Section 8E of our contract states that “The organization, format, notation and other physical aspects of the lesson plan are appropriately within the discretion of each teacher.” Danielson component 1e  calls upon evaluators to rate our lesson plans.

This will open the door to principals requiring particular lesson plan formats.

We will receive a performance review from our principal by the last school day but we will not get our final rating (and cannot appeal) until September 1.

Although all ratings can be appealed to the chancellor (who has, in recent years, only reversed 0.2% of Unsatisfactory ratings on appeal), only 13% of all the ineffective ratings system-wide can be appealed to a neutral body. Before Bloomberg, 13% of all appealed ratings used to be overturned.

Teachers who receive an ineffective rating two years in a row will then face an expedited 3020-a termination hearing.

These are the biggest changes to our working conditions since our last contract. State law requires that any new contract must be consistent with this new system, and not a single UFT member has voted on it.

Mulgrew says that the plan is “professional and fair and is designed to help teachers improve their skills throughout their careers.”[2] Mulgrew and others in the current UFT leadership have focused on negotiating the “best” deal while accepting a terrible overall framework, based on standardized test scores and cookie cutter rubrics.

Bill Thompson, endorsed by the UFT in the Mayor’s race, has called the new evaluation plan “unworkable in its complexity and bureaucracy.” However, the Thompson campaign’s co-chair  is Merryl Tisch, the New York state Board of Regents chancellor, who oversees the education commissioner who imposed the plan. She disagreed with Thompson’s comments.[3] We cannot depend on the politicians to save us.

Fortunately, teachers are coming together in MORE to rebuild the UFT from the bottom up, chapter by chapter. We also need to build long-term for a city-wide and state-wide fight against fake corporate education “reform,” and improve our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions.

MORE understands teachers are not alone. Parents and students are increasingly infuriated with the battery of standardized high stakes tests that are being imposed. We can follow the example of Seattle’s Garfield High School teachers who refused to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test this past January. Their boycott spread to other Washington schools, culminating in a huge victory—the MAP will now be optional.[4] St. Paul’s union in its contract negotiations has demanded that the district stop the mandated state test for third through eighth graders.[5]

We also need to find our common ground with other NYC public sector workers, who are all without a contract. Together teachers, parents, students and other workers can fight for the preservation and expansion of all the public services working class New Yorkers depend on.

[2]  Michael Mulgrew, “Taking Back Our Profession,” New York Teacher, September 22, 2011

[3] Lisa Fleischer, “Teacher Plan Uncertain,” Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2013

[4] Linda Shaw, “Starting Next Fall, MAP Tests Will Be Optional for Seattle High Schools,” Seattle Times, July 29, 2013

[5] Tim Post, “St. Paul teachers union wants district to drop mandated tests”
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