New York City Receives Teacher Evaluation Plan with Praise, Criticism


This weekend, New York State education officials proposed a long-awaited new teacher evaluation system for New York City. The plan, which will make it easier to fire ineffective teachers, is largely contested, reports Lisa Fleisher of the Wall Street Journal.

Effective this fall, teachers will be evaluated on a four-tier system in which they can be deemed highly effective, effective, developing, or ineffective — progress from the satisfactory or unsatisfactory ratings that were in place previously. Fewer than 3% of teachers were declared unsatisfactory last year in the pass-or-fail model.

The new system will allow principals to fire tenured teacher more quickly and easily after they receive an ineffective score two years in a row.

Teachers‘ scores will be based 40% on analysis of their students’ state test scores, and 60% on unannounced administrative observations of their work in the classroom.

To the dismay of the United Federation of Teachers, another new component that will be factored into the evaluation is student surveys. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year 5% of teachers‘ scores will come from student feedback in 3rd through 12th grade. Syracuse is the only other district to incorporate student surveys into teacher evaluation.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is supportive and pleased with the plan.

He said it was a “huge rebuff to the UFT’s obstructionism and a great victory for our students.”

“If I said we were going to have this when I came into office 11-and-a-half years ago, you probably would have started thinking about laughing,” the mayor said. “Nobody—nobody thought we could remotely get here and yet here we are.”

The system must remain in place until a new one is approved by the state commissioner, according to state law. However, with the mayoral election in November, it is uncertain how long the plan will remain unchanged.

Bill Thompson, a contender in the mayoral race, finds the plan to be “unworkable in its complexity and bureaucracy.” His comments are particularly noteworthy since the plan was devised by his campaign co-chairwoman, Merryl Tisch.

Mr. Thompson has said that he favors teacher evaluations that support teachers and help them improve. He said Sunday the evaluation system had become unwieldy, “littered with confusing rules and regulations that are certain to create confusion instead of clarity.”

Ms. Tisch, the New York state Board of Regents chancellor and boss of state Education Commissioner John King Jr., disagrees with Thompson. Tisch argues that other districts can execute the plans, and New York City can, too.

Chancellor of New York City Schools Dennis Walcott stresses the importance of getting support from the unions and “warned that if any of the candidates for mayor wants to fiddle with the evaluation, they will ‘do it at their own peril.’”