Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Deal for Better Schools- Editorial in NY Times @ a new Teacher Evaluation System

The following is an editorial that was printed in the May 11, 2010 edition of the NY Times. It details briefly a new agreement between the New York Department of Education and the New York teachers union. I would anticipate seeing similar bills introduced in many states bidding for Race to the Top money. -Dr. Petrosino

When school officials and unions work together, students have a real chance to come out on top. That was clear this week when the State Education Department and New York’s teachers’ unions announced agreement on a rigorous teacher evaluation system.

The Legislature should quickly approve the deal. It would improve New York’s schools and the state’s chances in the second round of the federal Race to the Top competition for hundreds of millions of dollars in education grants.

The proposal, which resembles one developed through a similar partnership in New Haven, does away with the shoddy evaluation system under which teachers are observed briefly in the classroom and even the most ineffective ones regularly receive glowing ratings.

The new system would require more intensive monitoring and would finally take student performance into account. Teachers would eventually be measured on a 100-point scale, with 25 points based on how much students improve on the standardized state exams and 15 percent based on locally selected measures. The remaining part of the evaluation would be locally determined, consistent with state regulations, and could include such things as evaluations by a school principal, peer observations, a teacher’s ability to produce lesson plans and so on.

Teachers would be categorized as highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective. Those who need help would be given coaching. Those rated ineffective for two consecutive years could be fired through a hearing process that would take no longer than 60 days. Right now that process can drag on for more than a year.

The State Education Department deserves particular praise, as do the two union presidents, Richard Iannuzzi of New York State United Teachers and Michael Mulgrew of the United Federation of Teachers, the city’s union. They worked on this deal even though their members are angry about impending layoffs. The Legislature should move swiftly on the bill so that the state can meet the next Race to the Top application deadline. It is due on June 1.