Archive for the 'Teacher Evaluation' Category



Cuomo’s War on Educators

Andrew Cuomo got much of what he wanted in his attack on NY state’s teachers.   Tenure now will take four years. Fifty percent of our ratings will be based on standardized tests that our students take. It will be quicker to fire teachers. This set of changes is designed to “churn” teachers, to make teaching a short-term career – in some places. Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Cuomo’s partner, made clear which places do and which places don’t deserve experienced educators – April 1 she proposed exempting top (affluent) districts from the new evaluation system, and the next day she proposed exempting high-performing NYC schools.

It’s not just teachers who Cuomo targeted – the new system will lead to many more tests for our students.

It is impossible to ignore the role of our union’s leadership in this. The NY Daily News reported: “city lawmakers said they were told by Mulgrew’s team that voting for the package would not be held against them.” On March 29 Mulgrew e-mailed the membership, claiming victory. Once members learned the details, he backpedaled. On April 1 he sent out a correction.

New Action applauds the acts of protest and solidarity against Governor Cuomo’s “educational reform.” 150 schools linked arms around their schools. We must build so next time 1700 participate. But it is hard to get behind a campaign that says 50% tests is too much, but 40% is ok. The vast majority of teachers know that evaluating us based on test scores makes no sense. It is time for Unity leadership to discard its discredited, pro-testing stance.

Note:  
September 2014 New Action moved to
endorse Zephyr Teachout in her race against Andrew Cuomo.
Unity blocked this endorsement.

 

Report from UFT Executive Board September 8 2014

This was the first Exec Board of the year.

There was no speaker for the open mike.

After minutes were approved they moved to the Staff Director’s report, as Mulgrew had not arrived. LeRoy Barr mentioned the Labor Day parade and thanked those who turned out, mentioned the ATR meetings that are happening in the borough offices all this week, and spoke about the Citywide Chapter Leader Meeting this Wednesday, at 52 Broadway, at 4:15 PM. Secretary Emil Pietromonico announced vacancies for VP- Educational Issues (Catalina Fortino moving to NYSUT) and Asst Treasurer (Mona Romain). He spoke about two meetings for members who had been rated ineffective – seventy or eighty members came to each.

Question Period:

Kate Martin-Bridge (New Action) asked for the number of current teachers in the Absent Teachers Reserve (Excessed Teachers, often referred to as ATRs). Emil said the person who answers the question was currently meeting with ATRs, and he would get back to us.

Jonathan Halabi (me, New Action) asked, what someone like Robert Jackson, who has been a hero for public education in NYC, had to do to get the UFT’s support (NYSUT endorsed his opponent in the primary). Paul Egan responded that Jackson had challenged an incumbent, and that they had equally stellar legislative records, and that state endorsements are handled by NYSUT.

Michael Shulman (New Action) asked how many probationers were discontinued or had their probations extended last year. They will get back to us.

William Goldman (New Action) asked how many Ineffective and Developing ratings there were. Jackie Bennett was called on, but said the numbers won’t be finalized for a few weeks. Emil Pietromonico reported about 650 – 700 Ineffectives and about 4800 Developings.

Presidents report (Mulgrew arrived during the question period). #1 Issue for us is contract implementation. Surveys went out to chapter leaders. Very smooth opening to the school year. Glad de Blasio is getting kudos on the pre-k. It means our kindergarten teachers will get better-prepared kids next year. Primary election is tomorrow, please vote. A big issue with implementation will be PD. When we used to do PD we didn’t like it because it was not ours. Over 6000 new teachers this year. Extra people retired in June. Speaking about the reaction in Staten Island, he said that the shirts that we’ve seen (supporting NYPD) have been appropriate.

On evaluation, the DoE offered a fourth option:  for teachers rated E: four informal observations and nothing else.

At that point he ended the president’s report, and Emil moved the agenda to vote on approving this fourth option (actually a contract change). Ellen Driessen (DR, District 20, Brooklyn) asked if, while we are it, we could get the Highly Effective 3 + open your classroom reduced to just 3 informals (answer, we asked, this was all they were offering). Passed unanimously.

Reports from Districts – Shelvy Abrams, Anthony Harmon, Vince Gaglione, Michael Freedman, George Altomare

Legislative Repor – Paul Egan

Special Orders of Business

1. Peoples Climate March. Sterling Roberson motivated. Michael Shulman (New Action) asked if literature would be distributed at the Chapter Leaders meeting Wednesday (while acknowledging that there is a conflict with a Chapter Leaders weekend, so attendance might be lower). LeRoy Barr answered positively. The resolution was unanimously adopted.

2. Endorse Zephyr Teachout for governor. Regina Gori (New Action) motivated. LeRoy Barr rose to oppose. Paul Egan rose to oppose. Jonathan Halabi (New Action) rose in support. Sandra March rose to oppose.

We will edit this section to include some of the debate.

The vote was overwhelmingly against endorsing. Yet we do not believe that every Unity Exec Board member voted.

New Action Caucus has ten seats on the UFT Executive Board – the only ten seats that do not belong to Unity Caucus.

Ten is not enough to win anything – but it allows our voice to be heard, it allows us to put forward resolutions, and when there is agreement, to put forward resolutions the leadership signs onto. It allows us to offer amendments. It allows us to bring issues to the leadership.

At Exec after Exec, Unity members sit and listen. Some never speak. Most rarely speak. But New Action usually has questions, comments, resolutions, or amendments.

This year we will publish reports – sometimes on the entire Exec Board, sometimes just on New Action’s contribution.

SHOULD TEACHERS’ RATINGS BE BASED ON STUDENTS’ TEST SCORES?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the November 2013 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: November 2013 Leaflet

The Teacher Evaluation Train Wreck is Unfolding Before Us

SHOULD TEACHERS’ RATINGS BE BASED ON STUDENTS’ TEST SCORES?

From Requirements of Education Law Section 3012-c:

“Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall. Teachers who are developing or ineffective will get assistance and support to improve performance. Teachers who remain ineffective can be removed from classrooms.”

This means that a teacher rated “ineffective” on both State tests and Local Measures must be rated “ineffective,” even if the principal finds them exceptional in the classroom.

New Action has opposed the Teacher Evaluation System since its inception.

Rating teachers based on using some form of the Danielson model is one thing. To tie our evaluation to student test scores is unacceptable. To have in State Law that a teacher’s rating can be based entirely on test scores is outrageous.

On Oct. 21, 2013, the 10 New Action members of the UFT Executive Board proposed:

Resolved the UFT will make it a legislative priority to remove from NY State Law any provision that makes it possible to rate a teacher ineffective entirely on test scores.

Resolved that the UFT will discuss this priority with the Mayor-Elect, in order that we might jointly lobby the New York State Legislature to effect this change.

The UFT Should Address State Education Law, 3012-c

This reasonable position was tabled by the rest of the union leadership. Their substitute resolution calls for expanding MOSL to include student work, including projects and portfolios, calls for a review process for teachers who get “Ineffectives” on local and state measures to see if the local measures were “appropriate,” “fair” and “reliable,” and calls for a moratorium on “high-stakes consequences” for state tests.

This does not go far enough. While these proposals, if negotiated with the DOE, would bring some relief from this evaluation system, they do not address the real problem: ANY EVALUATION BASED ON STUDENT TEST SCORES will not improve teaching. It will not improve our schools. It will not improve the education of our students.

The biggest difference between the New Action resolution (tabled) and the substitute resolution?  The substitute does not address necessary changes to the State Law that established this evaluation system. The legislation itself must be changed.

Resolution on evaluations based entirely on test scores

The following resolution was introduced by New Action at the October 21, 2014 Executive Board. Jonathan Halabi motivated. LeRoy Barr rose and moved to table (remove from consideration without a vote), which the body did.

Resolution on evaluations based entirely on test scores

Whereas, New York State Education Law requires the use of State Measures (test scores), Local measures (often test scores), and Other Measures (including classroom observations), and

Whereas the input of the principal only occurs in Other Measures (including classroom observations), but

Whereas New York State Education Law provides that a teacher who is rated in the lowest category for Local Measures (often test scores) and State Measures (test scores) is automatically rated Ineffective overall, without Other Measures (including classroom observations) counting at all, and

Whereas, we believe that the principal’s evaluation of a teacher should be part of any rating process,

Therefore, be it RESOLVED the United Federation of Teachers make it a legislative priority to remove from NY State Law any provision that makes it possible to rate a teacher ineffective entirely on test scores, and be it further

Resolved the UFT will discuss this priority with the Mayor-Elect, in order that we might jointly lobby the New York State Legislature to effect this change.

Report from UFT October 21 Executive Board

There were no speakers for the open mike.

Mulgrew gave the president’s report. He wrote letters to King, Walcott, Cuomo, and Duncan about massive special education violations. We need a wish list for the new administration.  We need a plan to restructure the NYC school system (we don’t want the current system; we don’t want to go back to the old system). We need changes in our teacher evaluation agreement. MOSL. Other districts in the state – some have horrible formulas, some have great formulas – he mentioned one district (I don’t think he named it) where 97% of teachers were effective or highly effective. We need a longer menu. Student projects should count. And we must restart the evaluation system, since the DoE rolled it out this year (I didn’t get his exact words, but the sense was that this was done badly).

There were no questions during the question period, but Emil Pietromonaco responded to several questions from the previous meeting of the Exec Board:  There are over 1700 ATRs, about 100 less than this time last year. There were 270 September retirements, consistent with numbers from the previous two years. There are now 17 Union Initiated grievances against the DoE’s implementation of the new evaluation system – the top four are:  1. Outside Evidence (principals rating things that were not part of an observation or an artifact), 2. Photos of lesson plans and other artifacts used for “evidence” 3. Multiple Observers 4. Goal Setting

There were many reports from Districts about various conferences and events, including the Strides Walk. George Altomare and Ellen Procida discussed a class-size win (it related to music classes, but I didn’t catch the details. George testified about teaching guitar, and Ellen mentioned something about the number 50, so perhaps the DoE was arguing that 50, which is the limit for required music classes, was also the limit for instrumental instruction)

There was no legislative report

There were two resolutions during the special orders of business.

1. Supporting Obama and the Democratic Senate Majority – this was written in relation to the fiscal cliff, so in a sense was dated. But there are new deadlines in January and February, and so the resolution was written to support and protect the Affordable Care Act, and extended by amendment offered by the Retired Teachers Chapter to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid against anything the GOP might try to pull in the Budget Commission. George Altomare motivated (and amended). Passed unanimously

2. Resolution on evaluations based entirely on test scores. Jonathan Halabi (me, New Action), motivated.  I said there were other changes that needed to be made in our evaluation system, including at the local level through renegotiation, but I was addressing a change that needs to be made in the State Law – if a teacher is rated highly by the principal on all 22 elements of Danielson, but gets I’s on both the State and Local measures, then the observations and principal’s evaluation of the teacher don’t count – are not allowed to count.

LeRoy Barr got up, essentially said that it’s complicated and that in the past principals had total control. “None of the local 20% should be based on test scores.” He then moved to table (remove the item from consideration without a yes or a no vote.)  The motion to table passed with only New Action voting against.

The resolution is posted here.

New Action Caucus has ten seats on the UFT Executive Board – the only ten seats that do not belong to Unity Caucus.

Ten is not enough to win anything – but it allows our voice to be heard, it allows us to put forward resolutions, and when there is agreement, to put forward resolutions the leadership signs onto. It allows us to offer amendments. It allows us to bring issues to the leadership.

At Exec after Exec, Unity members sit and listen. Some never speak. Most rarely speak. But New Action usually has questions, comments, resolutions, or amendments.

This year we will publish reports – sometimes on the entire Exec Board, sometimes just on New Action’s contribution.

Teacher Evaluation – What’s Coming? and What Next?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2013 Citywide Chapter Leaders Meeting).
For a printable version click: NA/UFT DA Leaflet October 2013

What’s coming?

This storm is just starting. Many teachers have as yet to be observed. We are 11 months away from year-end ratings. Very few of us have begun to digest that low scores on the 20% State and 20% Local Measures Components will trump the judgment of a principal who supports you and thinks you are effective.

And we are a full year from teachers with I’s working in fear of their jobs, and teachers with D’s having to report both to their own principal and to an outside administrator.

And, little as we like to think of it, we are almost two years from at least hundreds of tenured teachers being fired.

What Next?

We should continue fighting problems caused by the DoE’s unfaithful implementation of the system King imposed. We should look to renegotiate many of the problematic aspects.

But at its core, this is a system that rests on rating teachers based on standardized test scores, that weakens tenure. We need to go back to Albany and advocate for a repeal of the misguided legislation that led to this evaluation system.

Three Resolutions

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2013 Citywide Chapter Leaders Meeting).
For a printable version click: NA/UFT DA Leaflet October 2013

Lesson Plan Resolution

New Action Executive Board member, Bill Goldman, Chapter Leader of Tottenville HS, presented the resolution on lesson plan format on September 23, 2013. New Action wrote the initial draft, which was shaped into a bipartisan resolution. There is already a Union Initiated (UI) grievance. Our union must use all means available to ensure that the new teacher does not eviscerate our hard fought for contractual rights. We urge all chapter leaders and delegates to communicate with the members in their chapters reminding them of their rights regarding lesson plans.

Tests make kids sick

Tonight we have a resolution calling on the PEP to end the overemphasis on standardized testing. This resolution could go further, but nonetheless deserves support.

New Action leader Maria Ramos rose to amend this at the September 23 Executive Board:

“the current intensity of the standardized test taking and test prep affects children emotionally and physically leading to anxiety, frustration, low self-esteem, headaches and other physical ailments.”

Hear hear! The amendment was unanimously adopted.

Moratorium on Consequences for High Stakes Tests

No one opposes standards. But there is a vast chasm between standards and the mania for standardized testing, especially when such dire consequences are attached to the results. Standardized tests are being used to grade schools, close schools, destroy the morale of the school community and now to evaluate teachers.

New Action sharply disagrees with the UFT leadership regarding the Common Core, the new Teacher Evaluation system (or even the need for one), and the potential abuse by administrators in issuing “ineffectives” to teachers. But we wholeheartedly agree with the call to put a moratorium on consequences for high stakes standardized tests.


Content Policy

Content of signed articles and comments represents the opinions of their authors. The views expressed in signed articles are not necessarily the views of New Action/UFT.
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