Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Cuomo Backs Appeal Process For APPR Teracher Evaluation System

It seems that even Governor Cuomo knows that his APPR teacher evaluation system, with its dramatic shifts in VAM scores and teachers getting dinged as "developing" even as their schools are given excellence awards, cannot be defended as is:

As the Board of Regents moves to create a process for teachers to appeal the findings of their performance evaluations, the idea gained the endorsement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Both the teacher evaluations and an appeals system for teachers doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive, Cuomo said on Wednesday.

“Yes, I think they should have an appeals process, I think there should be an evaluation process, but it should be fair and it should be transparent,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo, a key architect of the current evaluation system approved by state lawmakers in the March budget plan, told reporters there “should be an appeals process” out of fairness to teachers.

“That evaluation has to be fair and it has to be transparent,” Cuomo said while in Rochester. “It’s only right if a teacher believes that if the evaluation is wrong, they should have a right to an appeals process. You’re talking about their evaluation that could determine their seniority, their raise, etc.”

Cuomo's bending ever so slightly in order to not be broken backward defending APPR.

The Lederman case exposed the bell curve that rigs 7% of teachers as "ineffective" as well as the arbitrariness of the test score VAM (Lederman went from 14 out of 20 to 1 out of 20 in one year's time while her students garnered similar scores on their state tests.)

In addition, APPR horror stories where districts are given awards for the excellence of their schools while the teachers at those schools are rated "developing" on Cuomo's APPR system have surfaced, further making the system indefensible.

Same goes for the stories of teachers at schools slated to be closed, many rated "ineffective" or "developing" one year, then getting magically rated "effective" after they go to other schools that aren't closing.
So Cuomo, in order to look fair about his APPR system, says he's okay with an appeals process for it, but only if it's "fair and transparent."

Ah, that is the rub, isn't it?

As has been shown in the Lederman case, APPR is anything but fair and transparent - NYSED refused to tell Sheri Lederman why she went from 14 out of 20 to 1 out of 20 on her test score VAM and twice tried to have Lederman's lawsuit dismissed on grounds that she wasn't harmed since she was rated effective overall (see here and here.)

Cuomo never had a problem with NYSED failing to explain to Lederman and other teachers just how they came to their test score VAM, but now all of a sudden he's in favor of appeals only if they're "fair and transparent."

In fact, Cuomo responded with a straw man argument when he was asked about the Lederman lawsuit, claiming teachers just don't want to be evaluated rather than acknowledging the problems that Lederman raised with the system.

It remains to be seen if by "fair and transparent," Cuomo means the kind of fairness and transparency currently on display in the APPR system and with how NYSED wields it.

I'm skeptical this "appeals process" is anything other than more PR, another "tweak" that will amount to little change when all is said and done.

We shall see.


  1. I know its intriguing and really hopeful to hear that Cuomo is now ok with an appeals process. I'm sure NYSUT, if they mention anything, will declare some kind of victory.

    However, we mustn't think this has any more meaning than exactly what was said....he's ok with an appeals process. Thats all. Cuomo said nothing about what that appeal would look like, who would hear the appeals, who would qualify for appeals, what the appeals could result in, etc etc etc.

    I think its important to realize that Cuomo saying this is most likely him saying nothing at all. All he is doing is working to keep his system alive right now so it can move forward and continue on its mission to start dropping teachers (especially Tier 4 folks) out of the profession.

    Part of me is actively thinking that perhaps we should be AGAINST this "tweak." Maybe we should push to hold them to this disaster so when it falls it makes a big noise. All of these tweaks will do nothing but enable this system to last longer, ding more people up along the way, and become entrenched as a new normal not only for state Ed folks, but also for teachers. Thats the thing I really worry about....the tacit acceptance of really awful things over time. Perhaps it should be as nasty and harsh as advertised so that we don't become the proverbial boiled frogs, and it crashes hard and then becomes a monument to teachers as what bad looks like. All these tweaks and bandaids will only serve to keep the thing alive until the next reformer awfulness comes down the pike that is worse or gives it a new lease on life.

    Cuomo is thinking that if he can keep the basic architecture of the teacher eval alive and moving forward, he can move towards the whole spirit of the thing in time (that spirit being destroying a profession). A tactical-rhetorical retreat in being ok with appeals does that. I'm not so sure we should applaud it. I know for sure that we shouldn't have any hope that reason is entering the picture, as it certainly is not. I think it may be a moment for doing the counter-intuitive thing here.....say no the appeals. Push back on it. Call it out. Say no. Lets do this evaluation as advertised. Really. Lets do it. Lets say we are doing it. No modifications. No deals. Lets do it. Lets have balls. We all know its a disaster on wheels. Lets run the fucking thing into the wall. Lets let them own it for a change. The tweaks and bandaids are all about softening the blow. Lets not let that happen.
    Fuck the appeals. I don't want an appeals process. I want them to try to chop my head off with this hatchet without a handle. Fools only respond to being exposed as fools.

  2. What if districts refuse to fire teachers based on flawed appr?