Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cuomo's Evaluation System - Nearly Everything's Prescribed In Law

Jessica Bakeman at Capital NY has a piece out this morning reporting that legislators claims that the Board of Regents and NYSED will have some latitude to set the new evaluation system is wrong - it's mostly prescribed and set in the budget:

ALBANY—To hear many lawmakers tell it, the big education-related news after last week's budget agreement between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature was the unprecedented role of state education officials in the implementation of a new teacher-evaluation system.

Evaluations would be left to the relatively apolitical professionals at the state Board of Regents and state education department. This would in turn address concerns—particularly among teachers—over the consequences of a grand bargain with Cuomo, who is pushing for more emphasis on testing and a more aggressive role for his office in setting school policy.

But that interpretation was premature, if not misleading: The ostensibly empowered education leaders don't know what power they'll have to influence the rating system, if they have any at all.

“We are going to look at the language very carefully and figure out what it all means,” Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch told Capital last week. “The governor says it’s administrative. The Legislature says it’s a vast level of authority. Somewhere between the two of those, I’m sure, lies reality.”

Actually, no:

The budget, which included a new system for rating the performance of teachers and principals, does, in fact, task the state education commissioner with figuring out how to translate students’ scores on standardized tests into educators’ ratings on a scale of “ineffective,” “developing,” “effective” and ineffective”—a job the department is already doing under the current system. The law also directs the commissioner to determine how to weight the required and optional components of the rating system.

But how the two main measures of teacher performance, student test scores and classroom observations, are combined in order to yield an overall rating is strictly prescribed under the new state law. And in that regard, the claims by lawmakers, especially union-aligned Assembly Democrats, look like an attempt to distract from the more controversial aspects of the evaluation system that they had just affirmed.

The "Heavy Hearts Clubs" - Assembly Dems who passed the education bill with "heavy hearts" despite all the awful proposals in it - kept saying the Board of Regents and/or SED would have some say in how the evaluation system was developed.

But other than developing the growth scores for the testing component, developing the statewide "Student Learning Objectives" for teachers who don't teach subjects that end in state tests and figuring out how Cuomo's "matrix" comes together (test scores on one side, observations on the other), there isn't much either the Regents or SED can do to change the system according to the Bakeman article.

Perhaps that's just as well, considering the geniuses at the Board of Regents and SED were responsible for the miserable Common Core rollout that Cuomo himself criticized multiple times.

In any case, lawmakers were either misinformed or misinforming others when they made claims that the Regents and SED would have some latitude to develop the new evaluation system.

This system was developed by Cuomo's staff and it gives very little power to the Regents or SED to change much.

Cuomo won his budget battle over the evaluation system, that's for sure.

That said, he now will own this system, since his staff developed it and the Regents and SED have little say in changing it.

When it goes off the rails - and make no mistake, it will go off the rails sooner rather than later - Cuomo cannot come back and blame the Regents or SED for the problems.

Not that he won't try, but you can bet all the enemies he now has in Albany, from members of the legislature to members of the Board of Regents to SED, will push back and make him own it.

Certainly teachers and parents will.

Cuomo thinks he's very smart with how he played the budget, getting pretty much everything he wanted on education policy and sticking it to teachers and the teachers unions at the same time.

But he will come to rue to the day he got his way.

Every problem that arises because of this system will be his.

Every dollar that gets taken away from the classroom and put toward compliance will be because of him.

He will figure prominently in every future story that chronicles what a mess the new system is.

This is now the Andrew M. Cuomo teacher evaluation system through and through.

46 comments:

  1. The only problem I have is, when it seems reformy crap is about to fall apart, or an anti-charter/anti-privatization move can be made, our union leadership finds a way to provide cover or supply an out for those who wish to attack public education.

    Not supporting deBlasio's anti-charter push, non-endorsements, and giving over-riding decision power to Bloomberg and Cuomo miscreants are UNITY's modis operandi.

    I do not trust Cuomo, sadly, I trust Weingarten and Mulgrew even less.

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    1. I agree, Pogue. Weingarten was there when Cuomo first promised to "break" us. She did or said nothing about the attack:

      http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2014/12/randi-weingarten-was-present-when.html

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  2. "When it goes off the rails - and make no mistake, it will go off the rails sooner rather than later"

    Can you please explain your quote above. Why do you feel so sure? I'm not asking because Im trying to prove a point, I am just grasping for some hope. I want to believe that. I trust your observations and outlook.

    Thanks!

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    1. 3rd-8th grade teachers will have somewhere between 40% and 50% of their ratings based on test scores.

      High school teachers who teach Regents classes are supposed to have 40%-50% of their ratings based on the Regents scores.

      That leaves an awful lot of teachers not tied to tests.

      They're going to go back to the SLO's ("Student Learning Objectives"), which are either going to be performance assessments of some type or (more likely) a way to tying teachers in non-tested subjects to the tested subjects.

      Does this sound like a long-term workable strategy safe from lawsuits?

      On top of that, we have the observations from outside evaluators - who are these outside evaluators? How much will they cost? What will they base their observations on? How safe will these observation ratings be from lawsuits?

      Cuomo thought he was smart tying all this to the education aid increases and making sure there was little to negotiate locally and little for SED or the Regents to change.

      But when it falls apart - and it will, given all the moving parts that don't add up - this will be his mess.

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    2. Who will be grading all these tests especially tests tied to the SLOs? Teachers whose jobs are on the line? State Ed? Teachers from other schools?

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    3. I think it's most likely they don't create extra tests for the SLO's and instead tie teachers to ELA and math scores. They're working hard to tie "overtesting" to teachers:

      http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2015/03/cuomo-attempts-to-place-blame-for.html

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    4. That is how SLOs are being handle in my district currently. As a 9th grade Global History teacher in upstate NY, my APPR is tied to ELA scores but only 20% at present. It hard to fathom that 40-50% of APPR would have nothing to do with my instruction in the classroom. However I believe RBE is probably right in that State Ed won't create new tests for a multitude of reasons; time, money, effort, etc.

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    5. The "who will be grading the tests" questions is critical. First, we have an insane assistant principal who insists that we "norm" everything we grade according to the rubric provided by the state (or city as it may be). He won't permit us to err on the side of the children and give a point in their favor- he is more interested in keeping the scores low. When we attempted to use a "when in doubt- round up" philosophy when grading the MOSLs, we were reprimanded. I'm certain that in schools with more "normal" administration, the grading is more liberal.

      And then we have the personal factor that comes into play. I work with many petty, vindictive people, many of whom are beholden to administration for their jobs. They couldn't be objective if their lives depended on it. I have no doubt that if they were told to low ball grades, they would do it.

      I'm sick to my stomach over all this, because I don't see any of it ending well.

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    6. 40%-50% of some teachers' evaluations based on students they may or may not teach in subjects they definitely don't teach.

      Does that stand up to a court challenge?

      I dunno, but you'd actually have to challenge it in court and with the UFT seemingly happy about the new system, looks like individual teachers may not get union help.

      That's why the Lederman case is so important. She has her husband, a lawyer, to try the case for her.

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    7. Does anyone remember a case a couple of years ago in Florida where music teachers were evaluated based on the ELA scores of students they didn't even teach (students were in other district schools, I think). They sued but their case was eventually dismissed. The judge said that while it was not fair for them to be evaluated based on scores of students they didn't teach, it was the "law". Powers that be changed the education laws so this was legal. If anyone recalls this case, please comment/clarify as I may not be remembering everything exactly. This is what makes me so nervous and unsettled about Cuomo's newest end round. I am wondering if the laws have not been all changed so we have absolutely no recourse.

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    8. I think any such system would be looked at with a wary eye by a New York judge. I find it hard to believe that a judge would ultimately determine that such a system offers a valid rating. I also think any such lawsuit should be filed in federal court. It very well could end up back in state court, but federal judges frequently offer very stern rebukes to the idiocy prescribed by government.

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    9. Florida judge dismissed teacher lawsuit, saying it was "unfair" but ultimately Constitutional:

      http://dianeravitch.net/2014/05/06/florida-judge-teacher-evaluation-unfair-but-not-unconstitutional/

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    10. 3rdgradeintheburbs

      A federal judge in Florida dismissed a lawsuit against the state evaluation system, declaring that it was unfair to rate teachers based on the scores of students they never taught but not unconstitutional.

      The evaluation system may be stupid; it may be irrational; it may be unfair; but it does not violate the Constitution. So says the judge.

      An article in the Florida Education Association newsletter described the ruling:

      “The federal lawsuit, known as Cook v. Stewart, was filed last year by the FEA, the National Education Association and seven accomplished teachers and the local education associations in Alachua, Escambia and Hernando counties. The lawsuit challenged the evaluation of teachers based on the standardized test scores of students they do not teach or from subjects they do not teach. They brought suit against the Florida commissioner of education, the State Board of Education and the school boards of those three counties, who have implemented the evaluation system to comply with 2011’s Senate Bill 736.

      “On Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker dismissed FEA’s challenges to the portions of SB 736 that call for teachers to be evaluated based upon students and/or subjects the teachers do not teach, though he expressed reservations on the practice.

      We are disheartened by the judge’s ruling. Judge Walker acknowledged the many problems with this evaluation system, but he ruled that they did not meet the standard to be declared unconstitutional. We are evaluating what further steps we might take in this legal process.

      Judge Walker indicated his discomfort with the evaluation process in his order.

      “The unfairness of the evaluation system as implemented is not lost on this Court,” he wrote. “We have a teacher evaluation system in Florida that is supposed to measure the individual effectiveness of each teacher. But as the Plaintiffs have shown, the standards for evaluation differ significantly. FCAT teachers are being evaluated using an FCAT VAM that provides an individual measurement of a teacher’s contribution to student improvement in the subjects they teach.” He noted that the FCAT VAM has been applied to teachers whose students are tested in a subject that teacher does not teach and to teachers who are measured on students they have never taught, writing that “the FCAT VAM has been applied as a school-wide composite score that is the same for every teacher in the school. It does not contain any measure of student learning growth of the … teacher’s own students.”

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    11. Here is more info:
      “Seven accomplished educators in Florida are pushing back against one arbitrary, irrational and unfair evaluation system,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. ”But they are supported by hundreds of thousands of educators across the country who are fed up with flawed evaluation systems being pushed by politicians and corporate education reformers in school districts across the country. As unthinkable as it might seem for a teacher to be evaluated on the performance of students they do not teach or subjects they do not teach -- we know that it’s happening and not just in Florida. NEA is proud to stand with our Florida colleagues to say ‘NO’ to evaluation systems that don’t help improve student learning or the practice of teaching.”

      The lawsuit was filed today in the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Florida, Gainesville Division. The lawsuit contends that teachers’ evaluations based on the test scores of students they do not teach or based on subjects they do no teach violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

      These evaluations have high stakes consequences. Teachers who are rated unsatisfactory (the lowest of the four performance ratings under the law) two consecutive years or two out of three years in a row are subject to termination or non-renewal. Transfers, promotions and layoffs are based on the assigned performance rating. And, as of July 1, 2014, salaries will be based on the assigned performance rating as well.

      It doesn't look as if any of the teachers who filed the suit were harmed as a result. That will be the key here in NY. Once teachers are dismissed or denied tenure, the nature of a law suit will change. These EL teachers filed their suit as a constitutional challenge, very different, The judge seemed sympathetic but was constrained by constitutional law.

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    12. Thanks to everyone for the additional information.

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  3. RBE
    What enemies?? He got exactly what he wanted!!

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    1. Yes, and he did it with hardball tactics that won't be forgotten. Make no mistake, Cuomo is liked less and less as the years go on. His staff essentially deserted him after the first term and he has fewer and fewer people who want to work for him or with him:

      http://thealbanyproject.com/andrew-cuomo-administration-departures/

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  4. I can bet a ton of money Mulgrew made deals with the Heavy Heart Idiots that come election time, UFT will still endorse them. That's all the electeds care about is votes. Most probably have no idea what was in the bill and relied on union officials to give them a thumbs up or down.

    Mulgrew is 100% behind this deal as the silence now from UFT is deafening. My guess is parents are starting to connect the dots to see who is to blame for their children's misery. History will not be kind to Mulgrew, and Weingarten for that matter.

    When Unity loyalists are faced with termination, maybe they will see the light.

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    1. Remember the story about Mulgrew negotiating separately with Cuomo's people outside of the NYSUT negotiators?

      http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2015/03/report-mulgrew-is-negotiating-with.html

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    2. Members should be outraged.

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    3. Other than small handful of people in my school who knew what was happening with the budget, most teachers had no idea the evaluation system was changing again. Some still don't...

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    4. Unity favored loyalists - not the peons - will be protected through back room deals - one of the perks of Unity- esp with union access to Farina and deB.
      We've actually seen examples of how they operate behind the scenes - sometimes for good, sometimes not.

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    5. Cronyism and nepotism will carry the day for some. For the rest - we're on our own.

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    6. Ed Notes

      Can you be more specific on how loyalists are protected?

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    7. Only small percentage of ineffective ratings can be challenged. UFT gets to pick which ones. Also, non-Unity CL's not given help by 52 Broadway. Have seen this with my own eyes.

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  5. QUESTION: The state is planning to create SLO's for teachers who teach non-tested subjects. Does this mean art, music, and PE teachers are going to have their own tests? What about Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade teachers? Or rather will all of these non-tested teachers have scores linked to the students that do have tests? (Like the current process) Any info is appreciated!

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    1. My sense is, they'll go with the second option and link everybody to test scores in ELA and math. See here for how and why they're trying to tie the "overtesting" burden to teachers:

      http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2015/03/cuomo-attempts-to-place-blame-for.html

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  6. Unity will never lose-too many people trust them! That's how they win-rank and file apathy!

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    1. Yes, they win through cronyism, nepotism and corruption. But that cannot last forever. The Soviet Union was run like that for decades too, until it finally fell from within. We're not close to that happening with Unity yet, but things will hit a tipping point as more and more rights and benefits are eroded for the R&F.

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    2. It will last forever as long as there is no serious alternative. and there will never be a serious alt until there are people challenging UNity people in every school.

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    3. Nothing last forever. The destruction of the public school system is nigh - once it happens, the UFT leadership will be walked to the guillotine too. The elites maintain the semblance of labor protection and negotiation so long as it serves their purposes. But it serves their purposes less and less, as we see from Cuomo's Walker-like attacks on labor.

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  7. The thing to watch as this mess unfolds, is exactly which method will be used to show student growth. My guess would be a VAM formula that compares scores of students of similar demographics. This is pure voodoo mathematics that is literally unexplainable. The more convoluted the system is, the better the chances for winning litigation down the line. Hope for the worst as it will be in our best interest. Even better if they rate teachers based on the scores of subjects or students we don't teach. No rational judge could possibly rule in favor of an arbitrary and capricious evaluation system that is being used as a weapon to exact political vengeance.

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    1. The key is to put the onus on SED to show how the calculations were done and what they're based on. So far, they haven't been able to do that in the Sheri Lederman case, which is why they're trying to have it dismissed:

      http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2015/02/nysed-cant-come-up-with-data-to-show.html

      http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2015/03/nysed-still-doesnt-have-data-to-back-up.html

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    2. Exactly! I tried to initiate a law suit against NYSED because my state test (ILS) is a four year cumulative science test that was written to evaluate middle level programs. Under RTT it became the go to state test for all 8th grade science teachers, yet the majority of the material is taught in 6th and 7th grade. My regional NYSUT rep said that I needed evidence to show harm (developing or ineffective evaluations). I asked if the threat of harm under Cuomo's agenda was sufficient and she said no. They tried to throw out Sherry Lederman's case based on this same idea - no harm, no foul. Apparently the judge ruled in her favor. When the shoe really drops under Cuomo's evaluation system and teachers are denied tenure or dismissed, the lawyers should have a field day. NYSUT legal better not back off when this happens.

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    3. They may be successful at throwing the Lederman case out on the "No Harm, No Foul" rule. But that won't work next time around, because "harm" is built into Cuomo's evaluation system. Eventually they will have to show the data and explain how it proves a teacher should be fired.

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    4. Dont use NYSUT legal. Find your own. Even our building reps say that. They are like public defenders who aren't that into you.

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    5. No wonder lawyers are advertising in the UFT rag. Does anybody else see a problem with that?

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    6. I wouldn't hire a lawyer advertising in the UFT rag anymore than I would buy insurance advertised in the same rag.

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  8. Hey, this might sound like a silly question, but just wanted to throw it into the mix - from what I have been reading, there may be a mix of principal and outside evaluation. Does this imply that assistant principals will be excluded from evaluation, or will they be lumped in with the principals as before? Thoughts?

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    1. I would imagine ap's will be able to do observations, as they are now. Of course, they may only count for 35% of the 50% or 60% that is the observation component.

      New law really aimed at taking system out of principals' hands, that's for sure.

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