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Teacher Evaluation

September 30, 2017 pm30 9:01 pm

At Wednesday’s Citywide Chapter Leader Meeting, UFT President Michael Mulgrew gave his version of the history of the current teacher evaluation system in New York City. Here’s his main points, and I think observers who like it and don’t like it will all agree that this is a fair summary:

  1. The old system, satisfactory/unsatisfactory, was not the “good old days” – you were at the principal’s whim
  2. The UFT was looking for a way to improve the system and improve teaching, and S/U was not going to do it
  3. Using straight up test scores made NYC look bad, when teachers here actually do a good job
  4. We got the state to use a “growth model” which measures what we really do
  5. The number of negative ratings is substantially down
  6. We are fighting for more options for the “growth” score, so that it can be based on performance, and not necessarily tests.

Omissions. Misinterpretations. And the deeper story.  In six points.

  1. Why is Mulgrew still arguing against S and U? It’s been 3 years since my last S rating.  But we all know why he’s arguing. Members in New York City still don’t buy it. At the Chapter Leader meeting, CLs sitting near me (not people I know) were saying NO and scowling when Mulgrew was trying to make the point. There is pushback, probably coming unevenly, but from all districts. Also, the UFT helped impose this on all of NY State, and there is likely more unhappiness out of the city than there is in the city (NYC has high turnover, newer teachers have nothing to compare Mulgrew’s system to)
  2. Being at the whim of the supervisor is not necessarily a bad thing, if s/he is a capable, trained, reasonable educator. This is the fight the UFT refused and refuses to take on. Where members were at the whim of an unqualified or malicious principal, we should have fought to have that principal’s judgment reversed, and to have that principal removed. Instead the UFT fought to have us judged on test scores. This is not a small mistake. And it continues. Because HEDI did not clear out the malicious and incompetent. Bloomberg/Klein’s small school policy created hundreds of admin vacancies when there was an admin shortage. Result? Literally hundreds of incompetents/abusives. And the incompetent? When things go badly? They take it out on subordinates. The categories overlap. There is still a need to weed them out, and it is still a fight the union is bizarrely reluctant to take on. They have even accepted an evaluation system where challenging the principal’s judgment is not allowed!
  3. Whoever thought of tying teacher training and teacher rating was either an enemy of public education, or an idiot. I can imagine this conversation:  “Members are resistant to PD, but they should love PD so we can say that teachers love PD and thereby ‘teachers are trying to improve the profession'” “I know, let’s make the PD high stakes and tie it to their ratings, that’ll make them love it”  If you can imagine the people having this conversation (and something like it likely took place), then you can begin to understand how the UFT leadership doesn’t get the resentment that much PD generates.
  4. And mixing rating and professional improvement? Bad idea. And by the way? I like learning about math pedagogy. I do it, willingly. But it has nothing to do with whether I am an ok teacher. Rating and Growth are naturally separate parts of teaching, and should have never been mixed.
  5. The “growth” model pretends to measure growth. In fact, it produces fairly random numbers. Good for you if you get a high number, not so good if you have a low one, and don’t believe for a second that your teaching really controls the outcome. There is no way to use test scores to rate teachers that actually makes sense.
  6. The number of negative ratings is down. I like that. But that’s not a system that makes sense; it’s a system that for 2016-17 didn’t do much harm. We got lucky. And for the teachers who got the bad ratings and didn’t deserve them?
3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2017 am31 12:17 am 12:17 am

    On evaluations and principals, a perhaps stupid quesiton: Last I recall, New York was like Florida: evaluation processes are mandatory subjects of bargaining, but not evaluation criteria — and thus the evaluation results as well. Has that changed? Unless UFT has won a nonmandatory provision to allow appeals/disputes of evaluations, responses to unfair evaluation results are political/non-grievance. (That doesn’t mean that’s not valuable; there are plenty of ways to prompt change without grievances.)

    • October 1, 2017 pm31 10:52 pm 10:52 pm

      I am not sure. The state law (that Mulgrew claims to have helped write) mandates the use of state tests, for subjects for which they are available. I do not think state law addresses appeals, which would leave it up to the localities to negotiate. But I am guessing; I do not actually know.

  2. Susan permalink
    October 1, 2017 pm31 3:54 pm 3:54 pm

    The matrix is not evenly weighted. For teachers that get a D from the principal and an I for the MOSL they end up with an overall Ineffective. So the MOSL counts twice for them. But if you get an E from the principal and D for MOSL you still end up with Effective. So for that teacher the MOSL only counted once. Why is this allowed ? Also at my school the principals friend grades the MOSL do she can grade it falsely if she wants and make it come in low. What a joke.

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