Deal Reached on Teacher Evals; City Still Closing Struggling Schools

Deal Reached on Teacher Evals; City Still Closing Struggling Schools

February 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday a deal between state education officials and teachers' unions that determines how a teacher's performance is evaluated. AP/Evan Agostini

State education officials announced Thursday a deal on teacher evaluations that settles, in part, a months-long impasse between education officials and the state teachers union. The deal, announced just hours before a deadline imposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, secured nearly $1 billion in federal Race to the Top funds that were contingent on a statewide teacher evaluation system.

The deal also resolved a disagreement between City Hall and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which represents city school teachers, over how teachers can appeal poor ratings.

“This agreement is exactly what is needed to transform our state’s public education system,” said Cuomo in a statement. “I am pleased that by working together and putting the needs of students ahead of politics we were able to reach this agreement.”

The terms of the state deal are as follows:

  • Forty percent of a teacher’s annual review will be based on student performance on standardized test scores. Twenty percent of the total 40 can be based on state test scores and the remaining 20 on scores developed by an individual school district, or a third party, pending state approval.
  • The remaining 60 percent of a teacher’s score will come from direct observation of the teacher, as reported by students, peers, parents and independent evaluators.
  • The evaluation system features a four-tier rating system for teachers and principals: ineffective, developing, effective and highly effective.

But while the deal has been heralded as “groundbreaking” and “historic” by Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, there are still details to be ironed out. While a deal on teacher evaluations was reached between the state and the state teachers’ union, City Hall still has no such deal with the UFT; they have only brokered a deal on the process by which teachers can appeal poor ratings.

And, according to Gotham Schools, the agreement does not end the dispute between the city and the UFT over Bloomberg’s plans to “turn around” 33 low performing schools by closing them and replacing much of the staff.

Indeed, Bloomberg said in a statement Thursday afternoon that the agreement does nothing to save the 33 schools.

“[We are] moving forward with our plan to replace the lowest-performing teachers in 33 of our most struggling schools so we can immediately begin turning them around and giving our students the support they need,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

For the mayor, “time is of the essence,” reported the New York Times.

“If the city and teachers’ union finalize a new teacher evaluation system within a year, it will still be two years before teachers can receive two ineffective ratings, positioning them for dismissal,” read the report.

Watch 02/16/12 on PBS. See more from The Capitol Report.

Susan Arbetter reports on the teacher evaluations agreement. Video courtesy of the Capitol Report.

The city has until Jan. 16, 2013, to finalize an evaluation system with the UFT.

Cuomo admitted tension still remained between City Hall and the UFT.

“Are there continuing, outstanding issues when it comes to education between the city and the UFT? Yes, yes, that is clear,” Cuomo said, Gotham Schools reported. “We never said we were going to resolve all the open issues.”