The newest iteration of the state teacher evaluation plan is eating up all the air. The all-day Education Learning Summit, the release of the 56-page Department of Education summary (Read here) and hours of discussions at the P-12 Committee of the Board of Regents.
A very quick review: in order to be eligible for the hundreds of millions of Race to the Top dollars (not so affectionately referred to as “thirty pieces of silver”) Commissioner Steiner and the Unions in 2010 entered into months of discussions that produced a teacher evaluation law (Section 3012-c ) and after more months the law was converted into the 20-20-60 plan (20% student test scores, 20% a locally negotiated measure and 60% supervisory observations). The results of the plan varied widely across the state. In some districts majorities of teachers was “Highly Effective,” in others disturbing numbers of “Developing” and “Ineffective.” Do the scores reflect teacher competence or do the scores reflect the district zip code or the ability of the students? Were teachers in poorer district, teachers of English language learners and student with disabilities fates determined before any test?
Teacher, principals and parents believe the highly complex numerical algorithms were flawed, poorly applied, or, both. BTW, it doesn’t matter whether the data is actually flawed; Cuomo’s behavior has tarnished the entire system.
The State Teacher Union, NYSUT, which represents the 700 local unions strongly opposed the plan; the New York City Teacher Union, that originally fought Mayor Bloomberg over the plan, seemed relatively happy with the plan.
In the year before the plan in New York City 2.8% of teachers received Unsatisfactory ratings, in the first year of the plan 1.6% of teacher received an “Ineffective” rating; teachers in New York City were faring better under the new plan.
Under the prior system ratings were based solely on supervisory judgement, aka, principal observations; under the new plan student performance mattered. A teacher who received a low score, a “Developing” or an “Ineffective” on the observation portion and “Highly Effective” or “Effective” on the student performance section will end up with a passing score, a considerable difference from the former principal rating only system.
The new, new Cuomo plan moves away from the 20-20-60 plan to a Matrix, a 4 by 4 box that determines the teacher rating, yes, it takes a while to comprehend.
Teachers are highly suspicious and view the plan as Governor Cuomo’s plan to fire teachers, and Andrew does nothing to dissuade them.
The complexity of the models stem from the wide diversity across the state; New York City developed 159 different algorithms to account for the wide variety of subjects; many districts outside of New York City used locally developed metrics that are more questionable in their impact.
At the Education Learning Summit a report from the American Statistics Association: teacher impact on student learning ranges from 1 – 14%; some Regents argued the impact of student scores should not go beyond 20%, Chancellor Tisch, in a presentation Thursday morning suggested 40%.
At the May 18th Regents Meeting many of the Regents had grave doubts about the Governor’s plan. Regents Cashin, Rosa and Johnson were especially critical. Regent Tilles referenced the “lipstick” analogy. There was no support for the plan. Acting Commissioner Wagner suggested a number of metrics, without Regents enthusiasm.
The subtext was fascinating – the Regents are a policy board, the commissioner turns the policy into regulations. The line between policy and operations is gray. Commissioner King deftly sidestepped the board, and determined both policy and operations. The board, the Regents, in the past, with the exception of a few members, rubber stamped the policies of the commissioner, until the parent and teacher backlash required a scalp. Exit the commissioner.
Will the Regents paint “lipstick on a pig,” and to the best of their ability gussy up a deeply flawed plan, or, vote down a plan provided by the commissioner that the Regents feel is inadequate?
Six of the current Regents are former superintendents; others are uncomfortable with the past direction of the board.
Many of the Regents suggested beginning with base metrics, relatively easy to achieve, and move up the goals as teachers and principals master the complexities. Clearly the Governor wants a tougher plan, a tougher plan equals more “D” and “I” grades.
The legislators, who passed the budget bill which included the Matrix, want a plan that “satisfies” parents, principals and teachers.
Let me make it perfectly clear: the legislature despises the Governor and would love if the Regents acted as their surrogate, and ripped the Governor.
Rent control, the property tax cap, mayoral control, the Dream Act, the education tax credit, the lifting of the charter school cap, all on the table as the legislature moves to adjournment on June 17th
Towards the end of the second day of the Regents Meeting Regent Young chaired a committee meeting that began a discussion of President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative; a discussion that in the long run is probably more important than the Cuomo “fire to success” plan.
Lupe Fiasco on Freedom: