NYC Misses Teacher Evaluation Deadline, Could Lose $1Billion

New York City’s failure to finalize a new teacher evaluation system could cost not only the city but the entire state heavily. The New York Times writes that federal education officials have taken notice of the failure, which has put the state’s entire $700 million Race to the Top grant in jeopardy.

The state had until midnight last Thursday to have a new system in place that would cover all of its 700 districts. All but four met the deadline and submitted new assessment systems to the state. New York City was one of the districts that failed to do so.

The missed deadline has riled John B. King Jr., the state education commissioner, who threatened tough financial penalties for NYC schools because the district failed to do its work.

On Friday, in a letter to Dennis M. Walcott, the city’s schools chancellor, Mr. King said he would have no choice but to withhold or redirect federal money unless the city submitted plans by Feb. 15 showing it was working toward putting a new teacher evaluation system in place. Specifically, Mr. King said, the city should focus on training teachers and school leaders in carrying out any new plan — something he said had not been done yet.

The plan to get teachers trained in the new system should begin to be put into place by the beginning of March. That means any and all conflicts between the teachers unions and the Bloomberg administration will need to be sorted out prior to that date.

The consequences for failing to meet both deadlines could be dire. In addition to losing $250 million in RTTT funding which had been allocated towards the city’s schools, the district could also face the loss of $800 million in Title I and Title II-A money which goes towards funding education initiatives for the city’s poorest students.

The biggest point of disagreement between the union and education officials appears to be the condition – requested by the union – that would allow the new system to “sunset” by 2015. The department of education is opposed to any sunsetting provisions, especially one that comes so early. They say that this is an attempt by the union to circumvent the process for removing underperforming teachers from the classroom, which is expected to begin that very year.

But Michael Mulgrew, the president of the union, said the process for dismissing a wayward teacher could continue even if the tenets of an evaluation plan subject to collective bargaining were in need of renewal, a position echoed by Mr. King. More than 90 percent of districts whose evaluation plans won state approval had plans that included provisions to sunset after a year.

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