Wednesday, October 7, 2015

On Monday, September 28, Governor Cuomo unveiled his new Task Force on public education in our state. The Task Force, comprised of administrators, politicians, teachers, parents and members of the Governor's circle of education advisers, has been charged with looking into Common Core curriculum, state testing and state education standards.

We are hopeful that the Task Force will suggest reforms that will address the concerns stakeholders in public education have with curriculum and testing. However, it must be noted that the Governor did not include in his goals for this Task Force any revision to the state's teacher evaluation plan.
Our district APPR committee is currently working to revise our APPR plan in accordance with recent changes to state guidelines. Our committee has agreed to file for a hardship waiver from the state in order to get 4 months of additional time to negotiate how to implement state mandated changes to our current APPR plan. We expect to receive this waiver, and a result, will likely see no changes to our APPR plan for the 2015-16 school year.
While we expect to maintain the status quo for 2015-16, many issues now face our committee in trying to amend our plan in accordance with new state regulations.
New state guidelines require all observations completed by a principal to count for at least 80% of a teacher's observation score. In some of our buildings, principals perform announced observations. In other buildings, principals perform unannounced observations. We feel strongly that observations need to be done in a manner that is equitable for all of our members.
New state guidelines require that all test results used in a teacher's APPR must come from state assessments or state approved assessments. In addition, the state has adjusted the target test scores required for teachers to achieve Highly Effective or Effective ratings. The problem is that the targets are so high that many teachers whose student test scores resulted in their receiving a
score of Effective in past years, will now be rated as Ineffective if their students achieve similar test results in future years.
It has been well documented and that the state's growth scores are fatally flawed. The scoring system is being challenged in our courts. The Board of Regents is currently suggesting guidelines through which a teacher can appeal their state growth score. In the meantime, our APPR committee will work to minimize any negative impact on our teachers of using these state growth scores, including the possible use of state-approved secondary assessment measures. Scores from these secondary assessments could be factored in equally with the state growth score.
While announcing his new Task Force, Governor Cuomo said, "It is critical that teacher evaluations support teachers in improving their practices, not punish them." Right now, the governor's rhetoric does not match with reality. Right now, the reforms the Governor is mandating for our APPR committee, and many other committees across our state, will result in unfair, inequitable assessment practices that can lead to punishments for our members. Myself and the other members of our district APPR committee will continue to do whatever we can to try and lessen the negative impact these evaluations have on the great we work we do each day in our classrooms. -Joe Romano LUT Chairperson of APPR Committee
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