Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, November 9, 2014

APPR - An "Abomination" That Is A Waste Of Time, Money, And Energy

The Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents have publicly criticized the state's APPR teacher evaluation system before.

They're doing so again in an opinion piece in LoHud.

This criticism from the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents takes on extra importance now that Governor Cuomo, having already claimed in a policy paper sent out before the election that APPR was one of the best evaluation systems in the nation, has promised to "strengthen" it by adding "real sanctions" that make it easier to fire teachers.

Here's the crux of their argument:

Our organization commissioned an independent study of APPR by Education Analytics of Wisconsin. It is the first comprehensive research study to examine the impact and effectiveness of New York's teacher evaluation system, and as such, offers national implications for the teacher evaluation issue. The study clearly outlined the design flaws in the APPR implementation, and concluded that there is no ability to compare ratings between or among teachers or districts. You might have already surmised as much, since the results of the last two years showed that 94 percent of New York state teachers are rated effective or highly effective. As Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "…there's no doubt it needs refinement, not everybody can get an 'A,' it can't be… "

Incredibly, the State Education Department seems to place blame for these meaningless results on local school districts, when in fact, state law and regulations drive the required components, the scoring bands, and the bargaining unit negotiations. Further, the state has made no effort to initiate an independent assessment of the plan's methodology. Why did a group of school superintendents have to take this step? Isn't that the state's job?

The study outlined significant flaws in the APPR model. Here are just three examples:

• Teachers whose students did not have to take Common Core exams typically received higher evaluation scores than teachers whose students did take the exams. The result? A double standard for teacher evaluation, and one that is ripe for legal challenge that will be costly to local districts.

• The State Education Department claims that individual local districts are responsible for 80 percent of the scoring under APPR, a claim that is wildly inaccurate. The Education Analytics study found that because of the APPR formula design, the local impact of scoring is closer to 35 percent of the total.

• The researchers identified that the required local assessments known as Student Learning Objectives – typically take 5-10 years of data gathering, development and training before scores can be reliably used as an evaluative measure – are being used for APPR. They were critical of this effort, noting that the absence of training resources and rushed implementation have resulted in an inaccurate evaluation system.


Like the Common Core rollout (no training, no resource allocation) and the disaster of inBloom (no homework on the enormity of data privacy challenges), our State Education Department has failed – miserably – to create an employee evaluation model that is useful for faculty and administrators and beneficial for the state's students. APPR is an abomination that must be discarded and replaced with a system grounded in industry research, legitimate comparative data analysis, and ongoing training and professional development. It will take several years to develop, test and institute.

As we now know, the integrity of the education reform agenda in New York has been woefully compromised, as school districts have repeatedly been required to implement untested and unfunded reform strategies. This must end. It is time to construct a strong vision for educational excellence in New York that is based on current international research and the needs of students to compete in a global society where creativity, communication and critical thinking are the prerequisites for success.

This is the system Cuomo called one of the best in the nation, one he wishes to "strengthen" even though respected school leaders in the Lower Hudson Valley term it an "abomination" that "must be discarded and replaced with a system grounded in industry research, legitimate comparative data analysis, and ongoing training and professional development."

APPR is of course not meant to be a useful system above the use it has for Cuomo to claim he's being tough on teachers and school districts.

He's not looking for a system grounded in industry research, legitimate comparative data analysis, and ongoing training and professional development.

He's looking for a political trump card he can use in his political campaigns.

It was a card he played with the Daily News in the week leading up to this year's election.

And it will be a card he plays again in January during his State of the State Address.

You can be sure it will appear if and when he runs for national office too.

He wants to run with the image of a tough-talking, tough-acting politician who holds lazy, incompetent government workers and other pols accountable.

APPR is one card in that deck.

There are others - forcing on-time budgets and sticking it to CSEA and PEF in contract negotiations, for example.

The tax cap he forced on districts too.

Cuomo doesn't actually care if any of this stuff is right or helpful, bad or harmful.

All he cares about is advancing his image and his career as Sheriff Andy Cuomo, the guy who cleaned up the mess in New York.

As we get close to the battle we're going to have over his APPR revision, it's important to come back again and again with this independent study commissioned by the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents that demonstrates how awful APPR is and shows why it needs to be scrapped and completely redone.

Cuomo's going to claim all that needs to be done with APPR is to tighten up the sanctions for teachers.

But the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents APPR shows differently.

APPR is an abomination that needs to be redone completely.


  1. These superintendents just did every teacher in NY state a favor. They can use their statements on APPR in court if necessary.

  2. Where are the superintendents in NYC? They've got nothing to say on this disastrous APPR?