School Administrators Lobby for Effective Change on Educator Evaluation Law

albanyThe New York State School Administrators Consortium (NYSSAC), representing the two largest educational administrators associations in New York State, lobbied the offices of Albany lawmakers today. They advocated for pathways to a more considered, effective principal and teacher evaluation system – one that assures the role of building administrators as the instructional leaders of schools and does not hold hostage needed state aid to school districts. SAANYS and NYSFSA representatives met with legislative leaders, including the education committee chairs of both houses.

During the visits school leaders reiterated their support for the recently passed Assembly Bill A.7303-a. The bill contains elements of what NYSSAC views as steps in the development of a more effective APPR system. Specifically, the consortium advocated to: 1) Extend the dates by which the State Board of Regents must enact regulations and districts must implement an APPR system under Section 3012-d. 2) De-link increased state aid from the implementation of Section 3012-d APPR. 3) Ensure that there is an independent assessment of any APPR system with a commitment to necessary adjustments based on such assessment. 4) Make the independent evaluator subcomponent optional for school districts / BOCES.

The last point is a priority for the consortium, and an element that the group would like to see added to the Senate’s corresponding APPR bill, S.5124. Administrators stressed that to mandate the assignment of independent evaluators diminishes the ability of a teacher’s principal to evaluate performance and provide effective instructional leadership on an ongoing and consistent basis. It is also another unfunded mandate, one that would cause financial and organizational stress.

Said SAANYS Executive Director Kevin Casey, “We have an opportunity here to make important, immediate adjustments to a law that was originally thrown together at the 11th hour then made even worse in this year’s budget process. How our schools operate and how we evaluate and support educators requires considerable thought, dialogue, and input from all stakeholders. We will all need to continue to work toward an appropriate evaluation system. Anything less is a disservice to our students and our communities.”

Commented NYSFSA Executive Director Peter McNally, “It is time that the entire APPR system is analyzed and evaluated by impartial education experts.  There is no comprehensive research that indicates that this APPR system has positively impacted student achievement.”

The New York State School Administrators Consortium (NYSSSAC) represents nearly 23,000 active and retired school principals, assistant principals, supervisors and administrators from every reach of the state. NYSSAC is the collaboration between the New York State Federation of School Administrators (NYSFSA) representing New York City, Yonkers, and the City of Buffalo and the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS), which represents administrators in all other cities and counties in the state.

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SAANYS Supports Assembly Bill Amending APPR

SAANYS SUPPORTS
Assembly Bill #7303-A / Catherine Nolan

 

Assembly Bill 7303-A amends Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2015, amending Education Law by:

  • Extending the date by which the State Board of Regents must promulgate regulations for an annual professional performance review (APPR) system under Section 3012-d;
  • Delinking increased state aid from the implementation of the Section 3012-d APPR;
  • Providing that school districts must submit documentation by November 15, 2016, showing that the district has fully implemented APPR;
  • Requiring the release of a significant portion of test questions and correct responses;
  • Requiring that student characteristic be considered in the development of state-provided growth scores;
  • Revising the subcomponents of the teacher observation category;
  • Including “other [approved] locally selected measures of student achievement” in the second optional supplemental assessment for APPR; and
  • Requiring that the commissioner establish a content review committee for all standardized test items in state assessments for grades three through eight.
  • The bill also provides $8.4 million to SED to help eliminate stand-alone field tests.

SAANYS Supports this legislation for the following reasons as it does address several of the immediate concerns regarding Section 3012-d:

  • The timeline set for the New York State Board of Regents and the State Education Department to promulgate regulations for the implementation of a new APPR system under Section 3012-d would be extended from June 30, 2015 to November 17, 2015. At the April and May meetings of the Board of Regents, Board members repeatedly expressed upset in regard to the inadequate time allotted to promulgate regulations in a thoughtful and transparent manner. SAANYS agrees that the timeline is too short, and strongly supports an extension to November 17, 2015.
  • The extension of the deadline to November 15, 2016 for school districts and BOCES to implement the Section 3012-d APPR system is entirely appropriate in allowing for sufficient time to re-negotiate teacher collective bargaining agreements, to re-negotiate administrator collective bargaining agreements, to develop and implement new policies and procedures, to conduct necessary professional development in regard to the new system, and to submit a new APPR plan to the State Education Department for review and approval. The extended time frame will promote the more thoughtful and effective establishment of new APPR procedures. Moreover, there is no need to condition the receipt of additional state aid on the implementation of the new APPR system. Such conditions, if implemented, only hurt students.
  • Teachers and school leaders use test results to revise instruction and to target resources and support to teachers and to students. Releasing a “significant” amount of test questions and corresponding correct answers during the current school year (by June 1) will promote program planning and better position schools, classes, and students for success upon school opening in September.
  • It is essential and right that student characteristics, such as disability status, be considered in the development of state-provided growth scores. However, it is also recommended that the manner/method by which such characteristics are considered should also be examined and revised if appropriate. The department’s current methodology is not transparent, and is felt to be flawed for teachers, and even more flawed for principals.
  • Making the subcomponent two, impartial independent trained evaluator, optional for school districts and BOCES will remove an unfunded mandate and an additional administrative burden. To mandate the assignment of independent evaluators also weakens the ability of a teacher’s instructional leader – the principal – to evaluate and guide a teacher’s growth based on what the principal knows of the needs of his/her students. However, discretionary implementation of this procedure by school districts and BOCES could serve as a pilot program for determining the efficacy of such an approach.
  • Establishing a content review committee for the state assessments administered in grades three through eight is directly responsive to the strong concerns raised by parents and educators since the implementation of the common core-aligned assessments. The establishment of the committee will demonstrate that state leaders are listening, and the committee’s actions may be effective in reversing the growing incidence of students opting-out of such tests.

For more information, please contact James Viola, director of government relations, by telephoning

518-782-0600 or by e-mailing JViola@saanys.org.

Analysis of Chancellor’s 4/22 Statement on Evaluations

Merryl Tisch, Chancellor

Merryl Tisch, Chancellor

Last evening the e-mail message attached from Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch was disseminated by Senior Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner. Based on this e-mail, SAANYS is already receiving inquiries regarding the actual timeframe within which school district and BOCES collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) and APPR plans must be revised to conform with the new requirements included in the new law, §3012-d. Please note that we too have just received this information and have not yet had the opportunity to discuss it with Acting Commissioner Berlin and/or other department representatives. As soon as we have such meetings, we will immediately provide you update information. In the interim, here are our thoughts:

First – We agree with the appropriateness and the need to extend the required phase-in of the new APPR system. In fact, we would submit that such an extension is as necessary for SED as it is for school districts and BOCES. We also agree with decoupling increased school aid from a due date for the implementation of the new §3012-d APPR requirements.

Second – Do NOT take the chancellor’s information at face value. I say this for three reasons:

  • The timeline extension called for by the chancellor would not apply to all school districts, but to “districts facing hardships meeting the timeline.” How will such determinations be made by SED? Will another procedure, an APPR Timeline Extension Application, be necessary? Nobody can answer this.
  • The November 15, 2015 due date for APPR Plan approval and APPR implementation, and the fiscal implications for school districts not completing such requirements by that due date, are included in Education Law. The State Board of Regents’ authority extends to education regulations and policy – not the statute. Moreover, regulations and policies must be developed in a manner consistent with Education Law, and cannot countermand or supersede the provisions of law.
  • The chancellor indicates that she has “directed” the State Education Department take such actions in regard to APPRs and school aid – not the Board of Regents; and the possibility of such actions was not discussed at any public session at the last Board of Regents meeting, on April 13 and 14. It appears that such action would certainly require policy or regulation, and this does not appear to be the case.

Third – At the current time, it remains impossible to re-negotiate teachers’ collective bargaining agreements to fully conform to the new APPR requirements; and it is more impossible to re-negotiate such new requirements for school principals – because the requirements of the new APPR system are not yet fully specified. Therefore, any collective bargaining agreements established and ratified between the current time and the time when the all the necessary aspects of the new APPR system are in place should include “reopener language” such as the language that has been provided to all SAANYS negotiators.

Additional Information: Following the transmission of the message above, 10:28 am. The following additional information has come to the attention of SAANYS. Mr. Alphonso David, counsel to the governor, said, “Under existing law, SED may have a hardship exemption procedure if SED defines the process by regulation and if the hardship is genuine and due to a particular circumstance, but that is the exception not the rule.”

Commissioner King Sends Letter to School Superintendents on 3-8 ELA & Math Assessments

On Monday March 24, the State Education Department sent a letter to school superintendents pertaining to the administration of state tests scheduled for administration to students in grades 3 to 8.

Commissioner King’s letter includes a link to access the 3-8 test schedule, including administration dates, make-up dates, scoring dates, and dates for the submission of answer sheets. However, the overriding theme of the commissioner’s letter is an encouragement for schools to communicate with teachers, parents, and students to correct misinformation to help them better understand “how the assessments help us better identify student strengths and needs and better support the growth of classroom teachers.” It is the commissioner’s expectation that such communication will alleviate stress and frustration among students and teachers.

The information released by SED does not address the matter of students opting out of state testing. However, when SED sent material on March 23, in preparation for a SAANYS-SED meeting held on March 25 under the heading Information on Student Participation in State Assessments, a link was included to access a January 2013 memorandum issued by Steven Katz. The memorandum states: “With the exception of certain areas in which parental consent is required, such as Committee on Special Education (CSE) evaluations for students with disabilities and certain federally-funded surveys and analyses specified under the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (see 20 U.S.C. 1232h), there is no provision in statute or regulation allowing parents to opt their children out of state tests. The failure to comply with the requirements provided above will have a negative impact on a school or school district’s accountability, as all schools are required to have a 95 percent participation rate in state testing.”

Download Commissioner King’s letter.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING OBLIGATION FOR APPR PLANS

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Despite clear language in the new evaluation law requiring collective bargaining for many key aspects of evaluation, several school districts and BOCES chose to declare impasse and unilaterally develop APPR plans and file them with NYSED for approval. In support of this, they cited a previous PERB decision regarding an issue in Wappingers Falls.  That proves to have been an unwise, simplistic approach to this complex process. NYSED had accepted such plans but had not acted on them. SAANYS, and other representative associations, consistently opposed these APPR plans, disagreeing with the applicability of the Wappingers decision. As a result, formal actions against the districts were initiated and plans for litigation, should the plans be approved by NYSED, were being developed.

On December 28, Commissioner King sent letters to the superintendents of these districts, notifying them that their plans would not be approved absent the signature of appropriate unit presidents representing principals and teachers.  In this letter, the commissioner stated:

“… consistent with the intent of Education Law 3012-c, the Commissioner will not approve APPR unless there is proof of final agreement evidenced by sign-off by the affected unions… “

Commissioner King also indicated that unless a district reaches “final agreement with its unions,” there is a “severe risk” of not receiving the 2012-13 state aid increases. He urged these districts to reach agreement and submit appropriate APPR plans soon.

Now, all districts that chose to ignore the collective bargaining obligation regarding APPR must accelerate such negotiations with teachers and/or principals to minimize this risk. SAANYS will continue to work with our units in these and other districts with unresolved APPR negotiations to settle on fair evaluation procedures for principals. Once the January 17 “deadline” is reached, we will all know which districts have had APPR plans approved and will follow closely the distribution of state aid based on this requirement.

Tonko Talks Frankly with Local Principals

Twenty-one school administrators from 14 school districts and BOCES within the 21st Congressional District met with Congressman Paul Tonko yesterday afternoon to discuss critical issues facing schools and educators. The three-hour event took place at the offices of the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) in Latham, New York.

The open discussion covered timely national issues in education ranging from the possibility of fiscal “sequestration” to programmatic issues and recommendations. The principals and other school administrators talked frankly about the real effects of reduced funding and layoffs in their schools, increased testing for students, and problematic outcomes from the Race to the Top initiative.

Commented James Viola, SAANYS director of government relations, “We are very gratified by the interest and effort of the congressman to reach out to school leaders in the 21st district. We look forward to hosting a similar meeting before the close of the calendar year.“

2011-12 Teacher Growth Scores Sent to Districts

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Today, August 16, SED announced that 2011-2012 growth report files for teacher growth scores (a.k.a,, subcomponent one of annual professional performance reviews) are now available to download. In the news release (read here), Commissioner King notes “that only 3,556 principals and approximately 15 percent (33,129) of teachers statewide [teachers of ELA and math in grades 4-9] will have growth scores based on student assessments in 2011-12, and the growth scores will represent only one-fifth of the overall evaluation.” Statewide teacher performance follows:

·         7%      Highly Effective
·         77%     Effective
·         10%     Developing
·         6%      Ineffective

Finally, the commissioner states in the release that, consistent with Chapter 68 of the Laws of 2012, SED will also release to the public aggregated overall evaluation ratings, composite scores, and subcomponent ratings and scores including state-provided growth scores.