held a meeting with superintendents from school districts across the Seventh Senate District at the Wheatley School in Old Westbury recently to discuss the new teacher evaluations being imposed by the state and the impact to the schools.
The new evaluations are tied to student performance on standardized tests and local tests. The new performances follow the awarding of $700 million to New York from the federal government’s “Race to the Top” program, which seeks to improve student scores by holding teachers more accountable. The new evaluations were designed by the State Board of Regents as part of the New York’s application for the federal funds.
Much of the discussion with the superintendents focused on the concerns regarding the new performance evaluations for classroom teachers and building principals. Under the new system, which goes into effect this school year as the first year of a phase-in, the state will differentiate teacher and principal effectiveness using four categories – Highly Effective, Effective, Developing and Ineffective.
For the 2011-2012 school year, for those districts with new collective bargaining agreements (entered into after July 1, 2010), only classroom teachers in the common branch subjects who teach English language arts and/or math to students in grades four to eight are subject to the new evaluations and the building principals where those teachers are employed.
The new evaluations could mean that up to 40 percent of the evaluation is tied to student achievement on state standardized tests.
“With the proposed changes, school administrators and principals would have to be retrained by third party contractors for a new evaluation rubric,” Sen. Martins said. “Our taxpayers have to pay for these contractors and the training at a projects cost of over $100,000 per district.”
As part of the discussion, Martins also questioned whether implementing another system will ultimately benefit those school districts who are already high achieving.
“The reality is that in an area like ours, with numerous outstanding schools that regularly outperform national averages, we run the risk of fixing something that isn’t broken,” he said, adding that he would continue to meet with superintendents to avoid any negative impacts on districts.