Evaluation Criteria Would Put Testing Onus On Teachers Unions
New teacher evaluation criteria that is being proposed in the state budget would potentially put the onus on local teachers unions as to whether a second test should be added for students which would count to a performance rating, according to a Cuomo administration official.
“It’s an option and it’s a risk,” the official said on Monday night. “It is a risk to have that second test. We’ve design it in the system because we’re trying to reduce testing.”
Details of the teacher evaluation criteria are being fleshed out after a day of waiting for the massive Education, Labor and Family Assistance budget bill, typically the largest and most complex components of the spending plan.
The official said negotiations are done on the education policy piece, but developing district-by-district breakdowns of how much money schools will receive is still being worked out.
The policy measure in the budget is called the Education Transformation Act of 2015 and will be included in the broader ELFA spending bill.
The package is a nine-point plan that includes new evaluation criteria, accreditation for teaching colleges, a teaching “bar exam” along with providing free public college tuition to teachers who commit for five years.
The proposal also has plans for school receivership and reducing the number of tests in schools.
But the evaluation changes as well as making it easier to fire poor performing teachers will likely be the biggest lift for lawmakers — especially in the Democratic-led Assembly where the teachers’ unions are especially strongest — to approve in the final budget agreement.
Evaluations would include one state-based test, along with an option — to be decided by collective bargaining — for a second test to be developed by the Department of Education. No new funding will be allocated for the second test, which would not have to a newly written examination.
Implementing the new evaluation is tied to a increase in education aid, with a November deadline.
“It puts the burden on them and in many ways belies the myth the state was asking for more test,” the official said. “Now, if they want the second test, they’ve going to need to ask for a second test.”
If a teacher is rated ineffective in the student growth performance category of state tests, the teacher cannot be rated effective.
Observation would be the second component of the plan, with a principal and an independent observer included.
The scoring bands — or weighted percentages for student performance and observation in the classroom — will be decided by the Department of Education.
Tenure is tied to performance, with teachers needing at least three years of being rated effective.
The New York State United Teachers union is deeply opposed to the changes, along with the 3020A overhaul, which would make it easier to fire poor-performing teachers, regardless of tenure. NYSUT is circulating a memo this evening urging lawmakers to reject the proposals on evaluations as well as the tenure and dismissal proceedings.
But the Cuomo administration is also confident that the proposal contains enough incentives for teachers, including a $20,000 merit-bonus proposal (which unions have opposed) as well as the SUNY and CUNY full tuition proposal.
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