Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, September 5, 2015

MaryEllen Elia Is Open To Delaying Cuomo's Harmful Teacher Evaluation System

Karen DeWitt at North Country Public Radio:

New York State’s education commissioner said she is open to granting waivers to delay new teacher evaluation for an additional year. Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia said the new systems should not be pushed through hastily because of an arbitrary date.

The latest version of teacher and principal evaluations were pushed through in this year’s state budget by Governor Cuomo. It requires that the reviews be based more heavily on controversial standardized tests. The new plans are due this fall.

The State Board of Regents voted to permit schools that find the deadline too tight to apply for a waiver for a one-year delay. Now, Elia, who’s been on the job since early July, said she is open to granting the waivers if meeting the deadline puts more pressure on already overtaxed school districts. “I don’t think we should put that much more stress on them,” Elia said. “Let them get the waiver and then have the time that they need to really do something that’s good.”

She said the evaluations can be a positive experience if they result in more support for teachers who need to improve some of their skills. “The reality is the teachers are going to be the ones that make it work in a classroom every day for the kids across the state,” said Elia. “So it’s important for us to make sure that this is done appropriately and not pushed through just because of a date.”

Oh goodie - Elia's open to delaying the evaluation system that rates how well teachers are teaching the Common Core standards and Common Core curriculum (EngageNY) that are now under review by Cuomo's third education commission in the last two years.

Oh goodie - Elia's open to delaying the evaluation system that rates teachers based upon the scores of their students on the Common Core tests that 20% of eligible students opted out of this year, the same tests that Cuomo stated were also slated to be reviewed by the Cuomo education commission because parents in New York had no faith in them.

Oh goodie - Elia's open to delaying the evaluation system that a judge is set to render a decision upon after a well-respected teacher in Great Neck went from 14 out of 20 to 1 out of 20 in one year on her state test component and NYSED couldn't explain to her why this was.

Isn't this swell?

No, actually it's not.

The system doesn't need to be delayed - it needs to be scrapped onto the garbage heap and a new one needs to be created in its place.

There is already plenty of evidence that APPR evaluations harm teachers who teach the most vulnerable populations - and more came in today at ICEUFT blog, per James Eterno:

 In April the ICEUFT Blog published a piece in which we publicly admitted that for the 2013-14 school year state data showed that 88% of the teachers at the phasing out Jamaica High School were rated either developing or ineffective. At the time we stated sarcastically that we must be "the worst teachers on the planet." The blog also said these ratings were meaningless.

We concluded the post by making a not so bold prediction that for 2014-15, when teachers from Jamaica were sent to other schools where the student populations did not have as many needs as those at the phasing out Jamaica, we would see much better teacher ratings.

The data is now in for 2014-15 and another ICEUFTBLOG prediction has come true. This year there were no adverse ratings from the 2013-14 Jamaica teachers who were still in the school system. We were perfect.  That is correct. 100% of the teachers who were at Jamaica in 2013-14, who became rotating Absent Teacher Reserves or were assigned to a school in the 2014-2015 school year, have been rated either effective or satisfactory. The only people who didn't receive these positive end of the year evaluations were the three who were fortunate enough to have retired.

How is it possible that we went from 88% of us receiving adverse ratings to 0% in just a year?  We were the same teachers.

Given that the evaluation system rates how well teachers teach the Common Core standards, curriculum and tests that are now ALL under review by Cuomo's third education commission/panel in the last two years, given that the test component of APPR is in the court system right now (described as a "Black Box" of suckery since NYSED can't seem to explain how they're coming up with the test score component numbers), given that teachers who teach in schools with students who score low on tests are getting nailed with "ineffective" and "developing" ratings and then magically becoming "effective" teachers when they move on to schools where the test scores are higher, there is no reason to DELAY the APPR teacher evaluation system and every reason to SCRAP it instead and build another one that is fair, transparent and effective in its place.

I am under no illusion that this will happen.

APPR is Cuomo's baby, he shoved it through in the last budget session because he felt not enough teachers were being rated "ineffective" or "developing," and he's not going to cave on it now just because he's just caved on his Common Core standards, curricula and tests due to parent protests, falling poll numbers and a skyrocketing opt out rate.

In the end, it will go because it is an unworkable evaluation system, it is harming children, teachers and schools, it is non-transparent, often arbitrary in its test component findings and rigged against teachers who teach the most vulnerable populations of students.

But for now Cuomo will ignore the criticism of the system, ignore that it rates teachers based upon standards, tests, and curricula that he admits are flawed, and push from behind the scenes to make sure the system gets put into place in districts or they lose their state aid increases as per the budget law.

Cuomo's been bragging for years about APPR and he isn't about to let the reality of it - that it's an unworkable, harmful mess - cause it to be scrapped.

But as we've seen with the Common Core standards, tests and curricula, pressure for parents can move mountains in Albany, or at least cause intractable, corrupt politicians to act, so the more pressure put upon Governor Cuomo, the Legislature, the Board of Regents and NYSED to junk APPR, the quicker it will end up where it belongs - in the junk yard.


  1. Thank you RBE and James for putting this together and highlighting the important outcome.
    Money talks, nobody walks. The new paradigm until the revolution.

  2. Rated Effective (again). Another year closer baby. All a game. Survival is the key. Another "Effective" coming this year. Play the game. No one (and I mean NO ONE) gives a shit about these kids or their parents. NYC schools are a freakin mess. ATR assistant principals making 130-140K a year is the latest laughing stock. Imagine being a substitute AP with no responsibility to whatever school your placed in for the year? Making 130/140K? Amazing system. Everyone's getting over INCLUDING ME!!! Fuck everyone. Gimme my money. I'm passing every single student along. Every single one. It means nothing.

  3. Same as above for me. Dead on

  4. "Delaying" this just gives false credence to what every teacher and administrator knows: The APPR evaluation system is total BS. More time and money wasted than we can afford, yet Ellia wants to perpetuate the myth of quantifying teaching.

  5. NYC is the biggest district in NYS. If they get a delay in the evaluations then everyone will get a delay in the evaluations. The big question will be if the DOE/UFT even plan on sending in an application for a waiver. My understanding is that they have till the end of October to request a waiver. Anybody have any idea if the DOE/UFT will be applying for a waiver???