New York Regents Announce Changes to Teacher Evaluations


New York State’s Board of Regents has announced a decision to halt the use of state standardized test scores in teacher evaluations for the next four years.

The proposal made by state officials earlier this week will give teachers two annual evaluation ratings starting next year and continuing through 2019.  While state test results will be included in one rating, they will only be used for advisory purposes.  The second rating, referred to as a transitional rating, will not include state exams and will be the one used for personnel decisions.  Evaluations for principals will also be included in the plan.

The plan takes into consideration a recommendation made by a panel appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and is a fundamental change to the evaluation system in the state.

The policies by the Board of Regents will “ensure that there will be no consequences for teachers and principals” related to the third through eighth grade English and Math tests given each spring, as well as include no growth score on Regents exams until the start of the 2019-2020 school year, the board said.

Also, it will “prohibit the use of results from the 3-8 state assessments for use in evaluating the performance of individual teachers, principals or students.”

The last three years have been used by state policymakers, local school districts, and teachers unions to create an evaluation system that offers a better categorization of teachers in place of the previous system that simply rated teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory.  The rating systems take into consideration multiple classroom observations in addition to state test scores and local measures of student learning, writes Kate Taylor for The New York Times.

However, the formulas used to determine student growth were criticized as being too complicated, and the repeated changes being made to tests in the state caused distrust over the scores.  Some teacher evaluations were based on the test scores of students or subjects they didn’t teach.

As a result of the recent proposal, observations and local tests will still be used for evaluations, but state test scores will no longer count toward decisions concerning tenure or whether a teacher needs additional support.

A re-consideration of the teacher evaluation system has come at the same time that a testing opt-out movement spread across the state.  Of the eligible students this year, one in five chose to not take the state’s math or English exams, writes Monica Disare for ChalkBeat.

The changes received almost unanimous support from Regents and from State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.  The only one to vote against the new regulations was outgoing Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who has historically supported the use of test results in teacher evaluations.

Also being considered are changes to the growth model itself that would take longer-term trends into account.  During the transition period, officials are set to focus on rethinking the Common Core standards as well as to look at alternative ways to evaluate teachers.

After a final upcoming vote by the Regents the proposal will become final, although a public comment period is set to follow.