Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, June 20, 2014

New York State's Teacher Evaluation System - And Its Governor - Continue To Lose Credibility

As I'm sure you heard, Cuomo tinkered ever so slightly with his vaunted APPR teacher evaluation system:

ALBANY—Governor Andrew Cuomo said he remains committed to his signature state-mandated teacher evaluation system but argued that amendments are necessary in order to ensure the fairness of the ratings.

“The teacher evaluation system is in effect,” Cuomo stressed during a Capitol news conference on Thursday. “We also said we want a fair evaluation. It's not just, do the evaluation system to do it. Do it, but be fair to the teachers. People's lives are being judged by this instrument, so you want the instrument in the evaluation to be correct.”

The flawed rollout of the Common Core standards “was a significant factor that had to be taken into consideration,” he said.

After negotiating with lawmakers and teachers' unions, Cuomo released a bill that aims to provide a “safety net” for teachers and principals who would be at risk of losing their jobs because of students' low scores on Common Core-aligned tests. Under the proposal, educators who earn “developing” or “ineffective”—the two lowest ratings—would have their scores recalculated without the components that are based on the Common Core tests. If the new scores are higher, then the original ratings could not be used against the educators in firing or tenure decisions. The changes would be in effect for this school year and next.

The tinkering did not make either parents or teachers happy.

First, parents:

Parents Outraged by APPR Albany Deal that Ignores the Children

The deal reached today by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature regarding minimizing the impact of Common Core test scores on teacher evaluations is a slap in the face to parents across the state who have implored them to reduce the amount of testing that children are subjected to and to improve the quality of these exams and the learning standards.

“The deal does nothing to protect students or to address poorly constructed tests, abusive testing practices or concerns about the Common Core,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt-Out.

“While protecting teachers, this does nothing to protect our children who will continue to be subjected to the stress and damage from inappropriate curriculum, standards and exams,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.

In light of this misstep, it is not surprising that Governor Cuomo and Commissioner of Education John King have lost the confidence of New Yorkers. The recent Siena poll shows that only 9% of respondents say they “completely trust” Governor Cuomo to act in the best interests of our students, and only 4% completely trust Commissioner King.

“Governor Cuomo and Commissioner King have made it clear they will not heed the concerns of millions of outraged parents across the state. Their arrogance is dangerous and will only continue to hurt our children, our teachers and our schools,” said Nancy Cauthen, NYC public school parent and member of Change the Stakes.

Then, teachers:

There's a deal in place with Governor Cuomo to shield some teachers from Common Core junk science ratings. This is positive for those who are rated ineffective or developing due to Common Core junk science. Regrettably, those who are rated ineffective or developing due to non-Common Core junk science are out of luck.

John King isn't worried about it because only 1% of teachers were rated ineffective last year. Of course, NYC has 28% of the state's teachers and wasn't rated at all, so that's a significant portion to overlook. But John King's not worried about that. After all, if statistics mattered to John King, he'd be worried that 70% of our children were declared failures by this program whose merits he praises at every opportunity. (Funny how he sends his own kids to a Montessori school, where they won't benefit from this incredible program.)

This is yet another band-aid. First, we temporarily shield the kids from CCSS high stakes. Then, we temporarily shield the teachers from CCSS high stakes. With the incredible statewide anger we saw the King face last year, someone had to do something. The problem is, there's this underlying assumption that the problem is in the rollout. It's the execution, not the program itself. What is this based on?

There's never been any proof that Common Core has any validity whatsoever. It's never been field tested. Perhaps the most extensive field test to date has been the NY State rollout, and that's been an abject failure. What do we learn from this? That we should fail more slowly?

We know what works for our kids. Our kids need good teachers, and we don't measure good teachers by Common Core junk science, by non-Common Core junk science, or by any variety whatsoever of junk science. Despite the druthers of self-appointed education experts like Bill Gates, there are some things you just can't quantify with mathematical formulas. Were that possible, teenagers everywhere would be clamoring for Windows phones.

I don't really mind the band-aid if it will help even one teacher in the state. But a much better program would be to get rid of junk science altogether. To do that, we will have to get rid of the politicians who are in the deep pockets of Gates, Broad, Walmart, et al.

Finally Aaron Pallas points out that with all the tinkering that has gone on with Cuomo's vaunted teacher evaluation system over the past four years, it's difficult for anyone outside of the Cuomo administration or the educracy to take the thing seriously:

The bill brings to a close a fourth legislative session in which changing the state’s teacher evaluation law, first enacted in 2010, played a starring role. The constantly shifting waters have some observers questioning how much longer the evaluation system in its current form will have credibility with stakeholders.

“I think it’s another barrier to the public seeing the evaluation system as legitimate when it has to be tinkered with every year,” said Aaron Pallas, a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Sheriff Andy Cuomo is desperately trying to save his signature education policy - the vaunted APPR teacher evaluation system - even as students, parents and teachers are up in arms all over the state over the system because it mandates so much of the Endless Testing the children are subjected to all the year through.
Andy's blaming the SED and John King in particular for the mess, but the truth is, much of this mess exists because the Common Core reforms, the CCSS tests and the APPR teacher evaluation system are all terrible.

Not that this matters to Andy, since his hedge fundie buddies like these reforms and that's all he really cares about.

Still, the more changes they have to make in Albany to this mess of a system, the more likely the whole system collapses under the weight of its own absurdity.

Let me remind you that they still haven't released the final APPR ratings from last year yet because the system suffers from what Newsday reported as "significant flaws."

Not exactly a system that inspires confidence or trust.

Or one that's going to last long-term or survive judicial challenges.


  1. Living the high life as the last week rolls around. Such a pleasure to read the mess on CC as no one knows what the hell they're saying or talking about. This state does this, that state does that, this governor does this, that one, does that. What a JOKE! There's opportunity in chaos and the educational system across the board is in an utter chaotic state. Hey, as long as everyone's getting paid, no worries. Thousands of consulting firms "monitoring" teachers, tests, etc. For what? Everyone's on the Gravy Train, EVERYONE!!