Two Intertwined Court Decisions: The Use of, and the Release of, Student Achievement Scores to Rank/Evaluate Teachers is a Highly Sensitive Issue, Two Court Decisions Clarify the Issue.

Within the last few days the courts have issued decisions both
wrapped around the use of student test scores to evaluate teacher

In the spring, 2010, after months of negotiations the teachers
union, the Governor and Commissioner Steiner agreed upon a multiple measure teacher-principal evaluation law. Teacher and principal evaluations would be based 20% on student growth, utilizing a yet to be determined value-added tool that would “measure” teacher impact on year-to-year changes on standardized tests (or some other “test” for teachers who teach in other grades). 20% would
be locally negotiated, perhaps student portfolios although not specified in the law and 60% traditional methods, i. e., supervisory observations.of teachers. The regulations requires school districts to select an observation metric from an approved list, New York City has chosen the Charlotte Danielson Frameworks.
In the fall. 2011, the Commissioner appointed a 63-member task
force to recommend regulations to implement the law. The task force was headed by Amy McIntosh, a member of the just created Regents Research Fund, a 501 (c) 3, chartered through SUNY and privately funded, with major funding coming from Chancellor Meryl Tisch. After months of meeting the task force report was issued, the teachers and principals on the task force were not happy, they felt it did not reflect their views. On the Friday before the Monday formal Regents
vote a rewritten set of regulations was issued. The “locally negotiated” 20% could be student test scores – increasing that category to 40% and if a teacher “failed” in the student test score category they could not “pass” regardless of their scores in the other 80%.
NYSUT, the state teacher union roundly criticized the Regents
and  newly appointed Commissioner King and challenged the regulations in court.
No one was surprised when the Albany justice sustained key
sections of the complaint. The Court sustained the union in ruling that the “intent of the law” was that only 20% of the multiple measures could be student test scores and that the “must fail” interpretation was flawed.
The Commissioner immediately indicated the decision would be
appealed, delaying the implementation for at least a year.
Three of the Regents voted against the original regulations and the
respondents are the Regents, it was premature for the Commissioner to jump to announcing an appeal. The next Regents meeting is September 12-13th.
Currently in New York City only a handful of teachers are
charged with incompetence under the current law. Under the proposed regulations, before they were changed by the Commissioner,  assuming one half of one percent are charged with incompetence the numbers would jump tenfold!
On one hand Commissioner King is asking teachers to dramatically change classroom practice and begin to implement the Common Core
State Standards and is telling them, BTW, I’m also going to try and fire as many of you as I can.
The relationship between state education commissioners and the state teachers union has always been characterized by professionalism and
although they disagreed on individual issues they worked together.
It appears that Commissioner King has chosen to break that bond.
The following day in New York City an Appellate Court panel
unanimously rejected the appeal of the UFT over the release of the Teacher Data Initiative (TDI) scores, These scores rank teachers utilizing a dense formula utilizing student test scores. In spite of assurances from the Department of Education a lower court ruled that under the New York State Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) public documents, with rare exceptions, fall under FOIL, and TDI scores are public documents.  A number of newspapers filed FOIL requests
and the Department announced it had to release the scores. The union, pointing to the high number of inaccuracies in the scores argued against release. A lower court justice ordered the release and the Appellate panel concurred.
The union announced it would appeal to the highest court
although it is highly unlikely that the court will hear the case. It rarely
hears cases when the appellate decision is unanimous. The process will take many months.
New York State has one of the strongest FOIL laws in the
nation and the decisions of the courts comply with the law.

One response to “Two Intertwined Court Decisions: The Use of, and the Release of, Student Achievement Scores to Rank/Evaluate Teachers is a Highly Sensitive Issue, Two Court Decisions Clarify the Issue.

  1. As usual, what do we do with the minimizing qualified administrators from the Leadership Academy who judge teachers on loyalty and obedience not on their quality of teaching!We have stopped s UFT graduate course that gave the teachers the twelve necessary communication skills for survival skills in today classroom!


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