Agreement reached on teacher evaluations

The New York State Department of Education and the teachers' union have reached an agreement regarding teacher evaluations.

The New York State Department of Education and the teachers' union have reached an agreement regarding teacher evaluations.

— This differs from the original plan developed by SED in 2010, which based a much larger percentage of the teachers’ scores on state assessments. That system led the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) to sue to prevent the evaluation system’s implementation, alleging that it was unfair and didn’t accurately represent the work teachers did. That argument was upheld by the New York State Supreme Court, which prevented SED from implementing the evaluation system.

The response

Indeed, the unions have found the new system to be much more fair, and much more representative of the work a teacher does.

“We believe today's agreement is good for students and fair to teachers,” said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi in a statement. “It includes two principles we believe are essential. First, a child is more than a standardized test score. While there is a place for standardized testing in measuring teacher effectiveness, tests must be used appropriately. Secondly, the purpose of evaluations must be to help all teachers improve and to advance excellence in our profession. This agreement acknowledges those key principles. The settlement also reinforces how important it is for teachers to have a voice in establishing standards of professional effectiveness and in developing evaluations that meet the needs of local communities.”

It also had the stamp of approval from SED.

“The goal is and always has been to help students to give them every opportunity to succeed in college and careers,” said State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. “To make that happen, we need to improve teaching and learning. We owe it to our students to make sure every classroom is led by an effective teacher and every school is led by an effective principal. Today, the governor's leadership and his commitment to our students has helped us take a strong step toward that goal.”

Local school districts now have one year to come up with their own evaluation plans based on the new rules. If they do so by September of 2012, they will be eligible for incentives in school aid. If they fail to do so by January of 2013, they will be ineligible for increases in school aid.

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