Details begin to emerge on new teacher evaluation system
ALBANY—The final plan for a new statewide teacher evaluation system will require observations by an “independent” evaluator, a Cuomo administration official said during a briefing with reporters late Monday.
It’s hard to say definitively what will be in the bill, since it hasn’t been introduced, and leaders of the State Senate and Assembly did not immediately return a request for confirmation that they have agreed on specifics of the deal. But the administration official, speaking on background, presented the plan in great detail, some of which Capital has already reported, arguing the deal was solid.
According to the briefing, the evaluation system will have two components: observations and student performance on state tests.
There will be two required observations, from a teacher’s principal or administrator and an “independent” evaluator, who could be a principal, administrator or “highly effective” teacher from another school or district. As Cuomo originally proposed, a college professor or retired educator could also serve as the independent evaluator. A peer observation will be optional.
The official argued against critics’ characterization of the “independent” evaluator as an unfunded mandate. If schools or districts agree to swap evaluators, neither would have to pay for the other’s services, the official said.
Student growth on state-administered, Common Core-aligned English and math exams in third through eighth grades and Regents exams in high school will be required components for the evaluation system.
Districts and local unions may choose to include an additional test, which would be designated by the State Education Department. Contrary to how the extra test was described before, it would not have to be designed by the state, which is a costly and time-consuming process.
The additional exam would address concerns about teachers being rated based on a student’s work on one day or over one test-administration period, the administration official said. But the test would be optional, so parents wouldn’t be able to blame the state for additional testing. the official said.
While the State Education Department will be charged with determining how performance indicators translate to “ineffective,” “developing,” “effective” or “highly effective” ratings, the budget will include certain rules that “trump” the outcome of the department's calculation.
For example, if teachers are evaluated using only the traditional state exam and are rated “ineffective” based on student performance on that exam, they may not be rated “effective” overall; they may only be rated “ineffective” or “developing.” For teachers at districts that opt to use two tests, if teachers’ rating based on both tests combined is “ineffective,” they must be rated “ineffective” overall.
If teachers are “ineffective” based on observations, they can’t be “effective” or higher overall.
The budget will also include new requirements for continuing education or professional development. While teachers are already required to complete 100 hours of professional development annually, there will be stricter state guidelines for what constitutes professional development. Teachers will have to complete the state-approved development in order to retain their certification.
The budget will also include $20,000 bonuses for high-performing teachers.