The most widely publicized aspect of the new legislation is Section 3012 c of the Education Law (“3012-c”), which contains the new comprehensive Annual Professional Performance Review (“APPR”) system for teachers and principals.
From a labor relations perspective, one of the more controversial aspects of 3012-c is the requirement of a locally developed (negotiated) appeals process under which the teacher … has the right to challenge the substance of the evaluation, adherence to standards and procedures for reviews, and implementation of a TIP/PIP. In fact, evaluations conducted pursuant to 3012-c cannot even be introduced during a disciplinary proceeding under Section 3020-a of the Education Law prior the expiration of the appeals process.
When a tenured teacher is charged with a “pattern of ineffective teaching or performance” the District must establish that it has negotiated and agreed to a TIP/PIP applicable to that individual.
All collective bargaining agreements covering teachers and building principals entered into after July 1, 2010 must be consistent with 3012-c. Those provisions of collective bargaining agreements that were entered into prior to July 1, 2010 and conflict with 3012-c remain in effect until a successor agreement is entered into, at which time the parties must negotiate over the issues implicated by 3012-c.
Unions and school districts must negotiate the elements of teacher evaluation systems.
Do principals have the skills required to both observe and evaluate teachers? Do they have the skills to assist in the design of a Teacher Intervention (TIP) and/or Peer Intervention Plans (PIP)? (See sample TIP here)
The history in New York City is not encouraging.
The current appeal of an unsatisfactory rating is pro forma, the teacher never wins, that’s right, never. Examples of egregious conduct on the part of principals is all to common. A Gotham Schools Community blog is chilling in recounting immoral and illegal actions by principals.
For teachers the evaluation/observation is viewed as punitive. Experienced teachers argue, “I’m an experienced teacher, I knew how to teach.” A supervisor responds, “Are the kids learning? It’s teaching and learning not teaching or learning.”
Principals and teachers shy away the core of the profession: teaching and learning.
Building a teacher evaluation system requires skilled supervisors and engaged teachers. In my view teachers should be part of the system, evaluation is not solely the role of the principal, peer review must be a part of any system.
How many principals currently teach a class? How many can run lunch duty? The ability to peruse data, interim and predictive assessments is not a leadership skill. The view of the principal as the sole decision-maker has evolved to a concept of distributive leadership.
In their landmark study of visionary companies, James Collins and Jerry Porras (1997) define leaders as individuals who “displayed high levels of persistence, overcame significant obstacles, attracted dedicated people, influenced groups of people toward the achievement of goals, and played key roles in guiding their companies through crucial episodes in their history.”
There is now much greater emphasis placed on the complex idea of “distributed leadership” shared by multiple individuals at different levels of the organization (Riordan, 2003). Similarly, Spillane, Halverson, and Diamond (2001) argue that school leadership must be viewed as the cumulative activities of a broad set of leaders, both formal and informal, within a school, rather than as the work of one actor, such as the principal. The buck may stop with the principal in a school, but it serves everyone’s interests to develop broad leadership capacity in their schools. This “distributive” leadership serves many purposes, including expanding expertise across staff members, thereby deepening efforts for instructional improvement (Supovitz and Poglinco, 2001).
We must seek new leaders with new skills, both principals and teachers, to lead schools into the future. We have a long way to go.