SED APPROVES 107 EVALUATION PLANS

9/19/12 Press Release is below:

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State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. announced that he has approved 107 teacher and principal Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) evaluation plans. In addition, State Education Department (SED) staff has provided feedback to nearly 200 school districts across the state.  The plans were submitted as required under the revised teacher and principal evaluation law passed earlier this year.

“There’s positive momentum,” King said.  “The release of the model plans last month has helped districts move forward, and administrators, teachers and principals have been hard at work to get these plans done.  We’re providing constant feedback to help districts finalize their plans.

“This is all about improving teaching and learning, and the plans we’ve approved reflect that shared commitment.  The goal is to ensure every student graduates ready for college and career, and solid APPR plans will help educators help their students reach that goal.”

King said the hard work of SED employees, working in partnership with Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), has helped keep the approval process on-track throughout the rigorous review of the APPR plans.

King noted that the APPR plans are part of the overall Board of Regents Reform Agenda.  The evaluation plans will help target professional development on areas that need the most improvement. To date, approximately 314 districts have submitted plans for SED review. Under the new evaluation law, districts must have an approved APPR plan in place by January 17, 2013 or they will lose their share of this fiscal year’s education aid increase.  King encouraged districts to submit soon because the APPR review process may take 4-6 weeks contingent on the date of receipt and volume of other submitted plans.

Along with an updated list of approved APPR plans, the APPR model plans can be found at: http://usny.nysed.gov/rttt/teachers-leaders/plans/home.html.  Approved plans are posted on this website on an on-going basis.

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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.“

Evaluation Confindentiality Bill Passes

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The senate and assembly passed Governor Cuomo’s bill (S.7792 / A.10786) regarding the access and disclosure of APPR evaluations and scores for teachers and principals.

The bills provide a measure of administrative relief for school principals (compared to A.9814-A, which would have required individual meetings with parents/guardians) but we do not feel that principals will receive sufficient or equitable confidentiality – especially those who work in smaller school districts. The bills also establish new unfunded procedural and data reporting requirements for school districts (many of which may impact principals and other school administrators).
A summary of the provisions of the bills follows.  

  • The companion bills specify roles and responsibilities for school districts/BOCES and for SED in fully disclosing and releasing final HEDI ratings and composite scores (0 to 100) from Annual Professional Performance Reviews of teachers and principals. The bills would become effective on July 1, 2012 and require that SED, school districts, and BOCES ensure that any public release of APPR data does NOT contain personally identifying information for any teacher or principal.
  • School districts and BOCES would be required to fully disclose and release HEDI ratings and composite effectiveness scores to parents and legal guardians as follows:

- Upon parent/guardian request, to fully disclose and release to the parents and legal guardians of a student, in any manner (including by phone and in person), the final HEDI rating and composite effectiveness score for each of the teacher and for the principal of the school building to which the student is currently assigned.

- Conspicuous notice of the right to obtain APPR information must be provided to all parents and guardians.

- Orally or in writing, explain the scoring ranges for the HEDI ratings to parents and legal guardians.

- Offer parents and legal guardians opportunities to understand the scores in the context of teacher evaluation and student performance.

- Make reasonable efforts to verify that any review request is a bonafide request by a parent or guardian entitled to review and receive the requested data.

  • SED would be required to fully disclose APPR data to the public on its website or by other means, as follows:

- The data must be suitable for research, analysis, and comparison.

- For principals – by school district – final HEDI ratings and composite effectiveness scores.

- For teachers – by school building – evaluation data.

- Within each district and school building – by class, subject, and grade.

- Final APPR ratings and composite effectiveness scores shall also be disclosed according to state region, district wealth, district need category, student enrollment, type of school (elementary, middle, high school), student need (poverty level), district spending.

- On a year-to-year basis, final HEDI ratings and composite effectiveness scores by the percentage or number of teachers and principals in each rating category moving to a higher rating category than the previous year, to a lower rating category and retained in each rating category.

- Data on tenure granting and denial based on final HEDI rating categories.

Recommendation for APPR Confidentiality

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SAANYS Position:  It remains SAANYS’ position that full confidentiality of APPR evaluations, scores and ratings should be extended to both principals and teachers in the same manner such confidentiality is afforded to firefighters, police and medical personnel.  It is important to remember that the APPR system is unpiloted and untested. At the State Education Department’s Network Team Training conducted from June 5 to 7, a lead consultant for the Department repeatedly said, “We are now entering the land of mid- course corrections.”

Read the full recommendation letter sent to members of the senate and assembly on 6/12/12  http://www.saanys.org/advocacy/positions.asp

Testimony at Senate Ed Hearing on Assessments

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“Testing is increasingly viewed as a way to measure teacher effectiveness.  Even advocates of this approach will admit that one cannot learn anything about a teacher’s style, lesson planning, curriculum outline, rapport with students, or instructional effectiveness from their students’ test scores.  The test scores tell you nothing about pedagogy.  Let me repeat, test scores tell you nothing about pedagogy.”

– Paul Gasparini, SAANYS 2012 High School Principal of the Year, testifying on SAANYS’ behalf

Read full testimony at http://www.saanys.org/viewarticle.asp?id=3383

NY Gets NCLB Waiver

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New York State has just been awarded an NCLB waiver from the US Department of Education. Here’s some info from the US Dept of Ed press release:

The Obama administration approved eight additional states for flexibility from key provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in exchange for state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and career, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership. Today’s announcement brings the number of states with waivers to 19. Eighteen additional applications are still under review. …  “These eight additional states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB’s one-size-fits-all federal mandates in order to develop locally-tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges,” Duncan said.

Duncan pointed out that many of the new state-created accountability systems capture more students at risk, including low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners, adding, “States must show they are protecting children in order to get flexibility. These states met that bar.”

Also see this Education Week article for a brief analysis: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/05/eight_more_states_get_esea_wai.html

SAANYS issues APPR Resource Materials

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We have updated our APPR Resource Packet and Sample APPR Agreement as of May 7, 2012. These are in response and relation to the recent SED guidance documents mentioned earlier.

Members can download pdf versions of these material from the SAANYS website at http://www.saanys.org/membersonly/evaluations.asp

Legislative Update: 3/30

Based on information received on March 26 during a SAANYS meeting with Commissioner King, and information obtained while researching technical assistance inquiries, we are writing to provide the following APPR update information.

Regulations governing APPR requirements were revised by the Board of Regents at their March 19-20 meeting. The regulations require that “By July 1, 2012, the governing body of each school district and BOCES shall adopt a plan, on a form prescribed by the Commissioner, for the annual professional performance review of all its classroom teachers and building principals…” On March 26, Commissioner King clarified this requirement by stating that school districts and BOCES should submit such APPR plans only if it is a final document that has been fully negotiated by both the teachers and the administrators collective bargaining units, and contains no placeholder language. Therefore, it is not required that each school district and BOCES will submit its APPR plan by July 1, 2012.

 

Building on this information, the Budget Bill (Section 22-b of S-6257-E /A-9057-D amending §3641 of the Education Law by adding a new subdivision 15) establishes new Annual Professional Performance Reviews Transition Grants for school districts submitting APPR plans before June 30, 2012. The following additional information is noteworthy:
  • The grant is applicable to the 2011-12 and/or 2012-13 school years.
  • If a school district has submitted an APPR plan before June 30, 2012 and the commissioner finds that the plan does not meet the requirements of §3012-c and that the cost of implementing the locally developed components of the revised approved plan are more costly than the plan originally submitted, the commissioner is authorized to award annual professional performance reviews transition grants to eligible school districts.
  • The commissioner shall have the discretion and authority to approve or disapprove such expenses and may require supporting documentation to determine whether or not such additional expenses were valid, reasonable and essential. The commissioner may also consider the manner in which the components of the plan were developed and if such requirements were not met as a result of a lack of good faith.
  • Approved expenses shall be eligible for payment on or after September 1 following the end of the school year in which such expenses were approved. In the event the appropriation is insufficient to pay all approved claims, the commissioner will pay claims on a prorated basis among all districts filing such claims until the appropriation is exhausted.
  • The commissioner will promulgate rules and regulations to implement the above procedures within 60 days of the effective date.

As you will note, this information lays out more work for SAANYS in obtaining:

  • Logistical information (e.g., application timelines, details regarding the prescribed form, required documentation, and maximum grant amounts; and the basis for the difference in the statutory and regulatory submission dates), and
  • Programmatic information (e.g., both schools districts and BOCES must submit APPR plans, but it appears that the APPR Transition Grants are restricted to school districts).

We hope that you will find this update helpful.

Jim Viola

Answering the Question: “From what sector will the independently trained evaluators be chosen and who will be doing their training?

From Jim Viola, SAANYS Director of Government Relations

This is an area that I expect will unfold in the next year or two. However, I have three thoughts regarding possibilities as to individuals who may serve as “independent trained evaluators.” They are:

* This matter should be addressed at the local level by negotiating the qualifications and/or procedures applicable to the appointment of independent trained evaluators (ITEs).

* I do NOT believe that it is necessary for independent trained evaluators to have completed Network Team Training by SED (though such training would likely be regarded in a positive light when considering applicant qualifications), and it may not be necessary for ITEs to participate in the full complement of turn-key training conducted by NTs. However, it will be necessary that ITEs satisfy the criteria set for evaluators and/or lead evaluators in the district/BOCES APPR Plan. Whoever is selected for such a role, should be very familiar with the rubric(s) that are applicable to the district as well as with the APPR provisions of the applicable collective bargaining agreement (i.e.,  teachers’ or principals’).

* This will, no doubt, result in a new “cottage industry.” In some cases, districts may establish lists of independent evaluators (and individuals to decide APPR appeals).

APPR Agreement Reached

At 12:30 today Governor Cuomo delivered an announcement in the Capitol’s Red Room that APPR issues have been addressed. The APPR revisions will be included in a budget amendment and will conform to the “agreements” reached by the parties.

There was no discussion of necessary regulatory amendments, however, Commissioner King indicated that the new APPR requirements are more clear, as previously there was “more ambiguity” in choices.

Based on the announcement it is clear that the APPR procedures maintain the three subcomponents:

Sub-component 1 – State Growth Measures (20 points) – Retains the state growth requirements, including requirements related to the development of Student Learning Objectives (SLOs).

Sub-component 2 – Local Achievement Measures (20 points) – Allows for the use of state assessments in a manner that is different from the way such instruments were used for sub-component 1. It will also continue to allow for other instruments/measures such as SED approved third party assessments and district/BOCES assessments that meet state standards.

Sub-component 3 –  Teacher Performance (60 points) – Will require that “a majority of the teacher performance points will be based on classroom observations by an administrator or principal, and at least one observation will be unannounced. The remaining points will be based upon defined standards including observations by independent trained evaluators, peer classroom observations, student and parent feedback from evaluators, and evidence of performance through student portfolios.”

The agreements apparently also contain APPR appeals provisions that expressly apply to New York City teachers. It will allow for certain appeals to be heard by a neutral panel, apparently based on the basis for the appeal. Such a provision will be of interest to other school districts/negotiators in developing their appeals procedures.

However, all school districts will be required to submit their APPR plans to SED, beginning in July 2012. Each district’s plan will need to be reviewed and approved by SED by the January 2013 due date in order to qualify for the 4 percent increase in state aid. Districts that have an approved plan by September 2012 will receive “bonus points” if they plan to apply for a competitive grant. Commissioner King indicated that he expects that districts with early approvals will serve as models for other districts. In responding to questions regarding SED’s capacity to review approximately 700 APPR plans in a timely manner, the governor added that the “template will be straightforward” and that there should not be “many varieties.”

The governor spoke with Secretary Duncan earlier today, and based on that conversation he believes that any consideration to reclaim federal funds is now “off the table.”  It should also be noted that APPR requirements expressly focused upon principals were not discussed.