What are some of the important factors driving the decision to stay or leave?
One of the main factors is the issue of voice, and having say, and being able to to have input into the key decisions in the building that affect a teacher's job. This is something that is a hallmark of professions. It's something that teachers usually have very little of, but it does vary across schools and it's very highly correlated with the decision whether to stay or leave.
-- Richard Ingersoll, Professor at UPenn, on researching teacher retention.
I bring this up in relation to the quote above from Richard Ingersoll because with the new conditions of employment of teachers in the state I am certain that our teacher retention numbers will dip and educators who might be incredibly effective at engaging students and helping them learn will, instead, work elsewhere. Effective teachers want more autonomy in their classroom and if they do not get it, they will leave New York state or maybe the classroom altogether. That would be an unfortunate loss for the 83 million enrolled students in this country.
The most egregious part of the new budget law's effect on education policy comes from the new teacher evaluation requirements. Currently, teachers are evaluated using a basic breakdown of 60% in-person observation and 40% student assessment. Even those numbers are unfortunate as it puts a large portion of a teacher's scores at the mercy of student factors outside of our control.
The final bill unfortunately does not outline specific percentages yet - that is left up to the State Department of Education - but it does mention a few key points that cause me some pause:
- Teachers will still be evaluated based on "growth scores." See this article on why I disagree with value-added modeling.
- Observations can now be conducted by outside evaluators who may not know what is happening in the school.
- Regardless of any other measure of performance, if a teacher scores "ineffective" on student performance on state tests, they are rated "ineffective" overall.
That last one is really the kicker of the whole bunch. As a teacher trying to innovate my classroom with new things, it is probably I will make mistakes and students will not learn as much as others at times. I am significantly less likely to attempt these new things if they will have a negative effect on my student's test scores.
I hope the Governor and legislators come to their senses soon. This will not bode well for teacher retention in the years to come.