Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cuomo Plans To "Strengthen Teacher And Principal Evaluations" In His Next Term

After taking some criticism for not giving much of an inkling of what his second term plans are, Governor Cuomo released a 240+ page plan for the next four years.

I'm still poring through the plan, but the first thing that leaps out at me is this:

He brags how his APPR teacher evaluation system is one of the best in the nation but says New York has "the opportunity to strengthen teacher and principal evaluations" in the next term anyway.

This threat comes after he complained a few weeks ago that not enough teachers were being rated "ineffective" or "developing" under his APPR teacher evaluation system:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday the state’s new teacher evaluation system will need to be refined, but he said he would like to see more data before pushing for any changes to the state law.
Cuomo said he sees value in the teacher rankings, but said critics who question how 94 percent of the state’s teachers can be “highly effective” or “effective” have a valid point.

“I’m excited that we started,” Cuomo said of the teacher evaluation system put into effect during the 2012-13 school year. “And I think once we start to study it and learn it and refine it – because there’s no doubt it needs refinement, not everybody can get an ‘A,’ it can’t be – I think it’s going to be a very valuable tool.”

But he conceded the system might need more scrutiny.

Critics of the teacher evaluations have pointed out the wide gap between the 94 percent of teachers who were rated “effective” or “highly effective” and the number of students failing to do well on state tests and in other measures of student success.

He gives no concrete details in the plan he released today, but if I am reading the tea leaves right, he will remedy what he considers too few "ineffective" and "developing" ratings for teachers with a revision of APPR in the next term.

And that revision will be a "strengthening" of the system to ensure that teacher ratings more closely parallel passing rates for students on the state tests.

This comes even as superintendents in the Lower Hudson Valley have trashed Cuomo's APPR evaluation system and called for a complete overhaul of it:

School superintendents from the Lower Hudson Valley say it's time for the state to shut down it's failed teacher-evaluation system and to pilot new models with the involvement of administrators and teachers.

"There is no simple fix," Valhalla Superintendent Brenda Myers said. "We want this to stop. You can't just mandate and roll out this system and publish scores that are invalid. We warned that this would happen and now we need a moratorium."

The state Board of Regents, which sets education policy, began pursuing a new evaluation system in 2009 as part of its agenda to "reform" schooling in New York. With the strong support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state Legislature adopted a system into law in 2010 that has been widely criticized by school districts and teachers.


A new study commissioned by the superintendents group identified problems with the complex scoring system. Superintendents also say they gleaned little useful information from the first full year of results.

"If the goals of this reform agenda were to improve teacher accountability, improve a district's ability to remove incompetent teachers, to provide data to inform teacher practice, and improve student achievement — it has been a costly and wholly avoidable failure," said Harrison Superintendent Louis Wool, who co-chairs the committee with Myers.


State Education Department officials have said that they want to review more data before considering changes. But local superintendents do not want to wait. They say the current system falsely implies that teachers can be compared based on their ratings.

"The system creates an illusion of accountability," Byram Hills Superintendent William Donohue said.

The study commissioned by the superintendents group looked at 2012-13 results for 1,400 teachers in 32 districts in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess counties. It found that, because of the state's uneven scoring scales, districts must give teachers high scores for classroom observations — an average of 58.1 out of 60 — to ensure they don't get "unjustly" low overall ratings.

Cuomo is saying publicly that APPR is a great success, but to make it more successful, it will need to be "strengthened " (i.e., made to more closely mirror student test score results.)

Meanwhile superintendents in the Lower Hudson Valley are saying the test components of the system are so broken that administrators have to rate teachers as high as they can on subjective measures to ensure they don't get low ratings they don't deserve because SED's algorithms suck.

We've got a fight coming in the next term over this awful evaluation system.

As bad as it is now, Cuomo wants to make it worse.

That's clear from the statements he made publicly last month as well as the plan he released today.


  1. Does anybody have any concrete ideas as to what type of changes he has in mind? I really have no clue as to what type of modifications he can accomplish.

    1. He's pointed out the direction he'll go in by agreeing with deformers who say the APPR ratings should mirror the passing rates on the state tests. To get that to happen, they'll play with the algorithms on the test component part.

  2. Did Hilary Clinton endorse him before or after he said this, or does it matter?

    1. The quote in the title of the post was buried on page 63 of his 240+ page plan for Term 2. The statements about "refining" APPR came last month. In the end, though, it's doubtful Clinton would see things any different than he does.