WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Assemblywoman Amy Paulin sent a letter last week to Merryl H. Tisch, chancellor of the Board of Regents, regarding teacher evaluations.
"We believe that New York State’s Annual Professional Performance Review (“APPR”) process fails to accomplish the purposes for which it was developed, and provides unreliable data rather than accountability and transparency," Paulin said in the letter, which was also signed by five other members of the Assembly. "While we believe that teachers and principals should be evaluated by trained administrators and held accountable for their performance, for the reasons set forth below we do not believe that the APPR, as currently constructed, is a reliable measure of teacher or principal performance."
One of the flaws Paulin pointed out was in the APPR "HEDI" scale which is supposed to grade teachers on a 100 point scale from three different categories including: growth on state assessments, locally selected measures of growth and classroom observations.
Paulin pointed out that classroom observations are too heavily weighted, constituting 60 percent of the scoring when only 75 percent is needed to pass.
"Imagine a teacher who receives a 9 out of 20 points on the first two subcomponents, which deems her Effective. In order to achieve a composite score of Effective, she must receive 95 percent of the available points on the third subcomponent, which is negotiated by the school district," Paulin stated. "With a very narrow point range to work with, i.e., 57 to 60 points, an administrator cannot meaningfully differentiate among effective teachers through the scoring of the third subcomponent, the locally developed teacher practice measure."
Paulin went on to say, the APPR sets up for failure good teachers, good principals, and good schools.
"A teacher who earns a rating of Effective or Highly Effective may in a subsequent year earn an Ineffective rating because his new class of students did so well in the prior year that there is no room to demonstrate the amount of student growth required for a higher score" Paulin said in the letter. "Even if his students do extremely well on standardized tests compared to similar students across the state, he may receive a poor APPR score. A principal too can be penalized for setting high standards for his students. A principal may receive a score of “Developing” if the school does not offer more than five Regents as is required for a higher score."
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