The Governor proposes that the teacher evaluation system be simplified and standardized. Instead of two student growth measures, we will have one. We will eliminate the local measure. Fifty percent of the score will be based on state tests, or, in the case of teachers in non-tested grades or subjects, a student growth measure that measures one year of academic growth.
The remaining 50 percent of the score will be allocated to observations and shall include at least two. A least one observation must be conducted by an independent observer to be selected from among the following options: 1) a principal or other trained administrator from within or outside the school district; or 2) a trained independent evaluator from a list of entities with a demonstrated record of effectiveness and expertise in this area, as developed by the SED commissioner; or 3) an appointed faculty member at a State University of New York or a City University of New York school of education. Thirty-five percent of the score must be allocated to this impartial observation; the remaining fifteen percent may be allocated to an observation by a school administrator.
The first major thing to notice is that the Governor proposes removing local measures from evaluations. I find this to be in large error because of the lack of nuanced understanding of needs from local sources. A student in a rural area outside of Buffalo, NY, might need something very different from one the low-income Brownsville section of New York City. Without local measures of any kind, it seems very unbalanced to suggest one state test could assess the same information.
The second major thing to notice is the change of whom completes teacher observations. No longer will the majority of your score come from your principal or designee - the person who has the most knowledge of the challenges and work that you do. Instead, it will come from a third-party observer. This person may be trained in standardized observation skills, but will likely miss nuanced actions a teacher takes due to lack of knowledge of the surroundings.
The last major thing to notice doesn't come from the test above. Instead, it comes from the schedule of when the testing sessions take place. In Elementary and Middle Schools, students will be testing on April 14, 15, 16, 22, 23, and 24. If you take into account 6.5 hours of regular instruction per day, that is 39 fewer hours of class they will receive. Plus, in public schools across the state, test prep is an important part of class to make sure students are on par with their higher-income or private school compatriots and that takes even more time away from regular instruction.
If you support teachers in helping to mould future leaders and dreamers in the United States, then support the opt-out movement. There is a wonderful video from Brooklyn teachers (some of whom I work with) explaining more in detail about why it is important to us and children. Check it out here.
As a teacher says in the film:
"It's not so much a political plea that I am making. It's a plea for the future of public education in New York state."
Call and write to Governor Andrew Cuomo:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
NYS State Capital Building
Albany, NY 12224