Thursday, September 30, the Levittown District APPR Committee met to finalize our APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) plan for the 2021-22 school year. The committee is comprised of members of the LUT and building and district administration. Much of the teacher evaluation system in our district is a subject of collective bargaining and the LUT has direct input in forming our APPR plan each year.
This change to a district-wide SLO should be a welcome one for teachers who teach classes that end with a state Regents or the Science 8 state exam. In past years, these teachers had individual SLOs for students in their classes based on historical data from student performance in past years. For 21-22, all teachers will be assessed in the same way.
From the start of APPR, the system that had been used in the past for creating individual SLOs and targets and the state growth score system that had been challenged successfully in courts of law, were flawed and fraught with inconsistencies. For this school year, and, hopefully moving forward, we now have a single system that assesses all of our members using student performance on exams that represent the culmination of all of the work done by all of the LUT members they have worked with over the course of their education in the Levittown district.
In addition to major changes to the student performance section, the LUT members of our district APPR committee have worked over the past two years to make the teacher observation section of APPR more manageable and fair for our members.
For teacher observations, our district utilizes A Framework for Teaching by Charlotte Danielson as the basis for assessment. It should be noted here that Danielson never intended her text on best practices in teaching to be used for teacher observations or evaluations. In an article published in Education Week back in 2016, Danielson wrote, “I’m deeply troubled by the transformation of teaching from a complex profession requiring nuanced judgment to the performance of certain behaviors that can be ticked off a checklist.” Ms. Danielson did not feel that each component in her framework could be assessed adequately in an observation of one or two classes.
With the wishes of the author of A Framework for Teaching in mind, the LUT and other local and state organizations have pushed for modifications to our APPR plan that would allow both the evaluator and the professionals they are observing to hone in on a few essential components rather than be overwhelmed by the totality of the entire framework.
For the 2020-21 school year, our district APPR committee modified our plan to focus on just a few components within each of the four domains in the Danielson framework. For the 2021-22 school year we will once again be focusing on just a few components; components 1b, 1e, 2a, 2c, 3a, 3b, 3d and 4a.
As was the case last year, the removal of components within domain 4 means that LUT members are not required to “enter evidence” in the online system for items in domain 4 as they had been asked to do in the past. The only component assessed in domain 4, 4a, is reflection on teaching. This component is assessed in the pre and post observation conferences that take place during the announced observation process.
Overall, I am proud to say that through the hard work of the LUT members of our APPR committee and the advocacy work of our union on a state and national level, teachers have taken a poorly designed law that some feel was written to be a “gotcha” against teachers and have ostensibly neutered it to a point where it has little to no impact on the important work we need to do in our classrooms every day. If you have any questions or concerns about APPR, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org