Update: Principal and Teacher APPR Evaluations

On  April 9, SAANYS orchestrated a Lobby Day in which teams of Government Relations Committee members met with the Governor’s office and members of the state legislature. The number 1 priority issue discussed at the meetings was an APPR moratorium — and securing APPR adjustments for principals and teachers has remained “the” priority issue for which we have lobbied on multiple occasions until yesterday evening. In doing so, we worked with the NYS Federation of School Administrators – the organization representing administrators in Buffalo, Yonkers, and New York City; and with other Education Conference Board organizations, including NYSUT. On June 19, Governor Cuomo introduced Program Bill 56 – Temporary Provisions for Common Core Learning Standards – which passed by the Assembly 114-1 (A-10168) and by the Senate 60-0 (S-7921).

Program Bill 56 includes measures expressly for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years for the issuance of annual professional performance review (APPR) evaluations to teachers and principals. For teachers and principals rated ineffective or developing, an alternative scoring procedure would be implemented, possibly amending scores for one or two APPR subcomponents (i.e., student achievement and/or locally selected measures), by excluding from the evaluation calculation student performance that is based on common core-aligned tests in grades 3 to 8. (The provisions of the bill will have no effect upon the APPR evaluations of principals and teachers rated effective or highly effective.) For such teachers and principals, the higher calculated composite APPR score and rating would be used. The higher APPR score would also be used for any action related to termination, tenure determinations, expedited hearings, and decisions related to retention.

The bill is good, but not perfect in protecting teachers and principals from unfair and negative impacts accruing from annual professional performance reviews that are based upon flawed common core-aligned assessments results. Until last night, we sought three revisions:

  • The APPR safeguards do not extend to Regents common core-aligned examinations. It is SAANYS’ position that the same safeguards that will be in place in regard to student performance on common core-aligned tests in grades 3 to 8 should apply to students taking common core-aligned Regents examinations. SAANYS feels there is no basis to expect that the high school tests, which are high stakes for student graduation, are more valid and fair than the common core-aligned tests in grades 3 to 8 for the evaluation of students – or educators. The governor declined this modification, at least in part because of districts offering optional examinations aligned with the 2005 NYS Learning Standards.
  • Individual employment records and APPR documents that may be disclosed to parents must include both the original APPR score and the re-calculated APPR score. SAANYS feels that only the better APPR score should be entered into employment records and made available for disclosure to parents. There is no rationale for treating employment records and the release of APPR scores to parents in a manner that is different than for other purposes. Moreover, releasing both the original and adjusted APPR scores may lead to confusion for parents and guardians.
  • The APPR alternative score provision is restricted to teachers and principals rated developing or ineffective. Consistent with State Education Department guidance, some school districts have established APPR plans that include additional compensation for teachers and principals rated highly effective. Extending the alternative scoring provisions in the Program Bill to teachers and principals rated effective would help ensure that such educators are not financially disadvantaged by student performance on common core-aligned assessments.

Education Commissioner John King warned that removing common core-aligned test scores from consideration in teacher and principal APPR evaluations would endanger federal funding. On June 18, the commissioner said, “We are committed to include student performance and student progress on state tests in the evaluation system.” Click here to read more.

On June 12, Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch spoke of the need to “honor our federal obligations” related to APPR and said that, “We are ready to make this a ‘go’ in September.” The chancellor also  said that failure to implement the new APPR system “would cost New York State lots of federal dollars,” but provided no specific information in this regard.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan commended Governor Cuomo and those involved in the agreement which will “ensure that schools across the state can continue to build on the significant progress they have made over the past four years.” As is stated in the attached news article, “New York appears not to be in danger of losing federal funding…”

We hope that you will find this information helpful. We will provide additional information in regards to the temporary APPR provisions – the Board of Regents meet next on June 23 and 24. All the best. …Jim Viola