Teacher Evaluations and Your Child

I’m not sure how other states are conducting their teacher evaluation plans, but here in New York, we have what is called APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) and what it used to look like vs what it looks like now is vastly different. In the past, teachers would sit down with their principal at the end of the school year and go over a rating form that both the teacher and principal had already completed.  They would compare scores, talk about differences, and review goals that the teacher had to submit for the upcoming school year. The principal would go over strengths and weaknesses of the particular teacher, and discuss any relevant information or questions that the teacher had.  Prior to this, the teacher had already had a formal classroom observation by the principal which was reviewed at a post-observation meeting.  Forms were signed and submitted to the district office, and voila, the evaluation process was completed for another year. Make no mistake, this form of evaluation did not “protect” bad teachers or ignore the fact that some teachers had obvious difficulties in the classroom.  I don’t know any principals who want to have ineffective teachers or teachers not pulling their weight in their building, so these evaluations served as a good platform for discussion on how these particular teachers could improve for the upcoming year. Sometimes these struggling teachers were reassigned to a different grade level or building to better suit their strengths or style. Sometimes these teachers were paired with a mentor. Sometimes these teachers were relieved of their teaching duties (Yes, it is possible even with tenure. Tenure does not guarantee job security. It guarantees due process).

The new APPR system was implemented last year. Now teachers are rated on a HEDI (pronounced Heidi) scale: Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, or Ineffective. Teachers are rated on three components:   State Growth Measure, Locally Developed Growth Measure, and Other Measures of Effectiveness. I am going to explain this as simply as possible, and then explain what exactly this means for our students–your children. More information can be found on your districts APPR plan here: http://usny.nysed.gov/rttt/teachers-leaders/plans/  Every district with an approved APPR plan is listed on this site.

Growth Measure (20 points):  This is a measure that is determined by a set of assessments. This is where the term “SLO” (Student Learning Objective) comes into play. Teachers administer a pre-test in the beginning of the school year, determine a goal or target for each student to reach on the same or a similar test at the end of the school year, and then administer a post-test at the end of the year.  If the student reaches the goal then the teacher gains points.  If not, the teacher loses points. Teachers who teach a class with a state assessment (grades 3-8) or a Regents exam use those scores as their post-test score.

Locally Developed Growth (20 points):  This is a one-time assessment given at the end of the year. Some teachers use their particular Regents exam for this score, while other teachers use a different assessment such as AIMSWEB or a locally created assessment. At the high school level, final exams are often used for this score. The teacher determines a target goal that students will reach and then after the assessments are scored, the points are entered and a total ‘target reached’ score will be generated for the teacher.  It is important to note that teachers are not allowed to score their own assessments.

Other Measures of Effectiveness (60 points): This score comes from formal classroom observations by the principal, informal observations (principal “drop ins”), and other evidence provided to the principal in accordance to the Danielson Rubric.  This is where teachers are now presenting teacher portfolios that provide evidence of reaching all of the elements of the four domains within the Danielson Rubric. The domains are broken down and explained into ‘look fors’ and ‘elements’ that many teachers are now using as guides in the classroom. More detailed ‘look fors’ can be found here: http://www.danielsongroup.org/userfiles/files/downloads/2013EvaluationInstrument.pdf

Once all the scores have been computed, the scores are then turned into a HEDI score and mailed to the teacher. This friends, is the new teacher evaluation process to ensure that the teachers in your district are doing their jobs.  Most teachers have adjusted and are rolling with the changes.  There’s really no room for complaining as this isn’t going away anytime soon so what else can we do than just adjust to the changes?  The problem, folks, is this:

Time and accuracy. Friday I spent three hours at a great computer training. I learned valuable resources that will transform the culture of my classroom and will greatly benefit the students. I was excited to get back to my classroom to experiment and practice and implement these changes.  That didn’t happen.  Instead, I spent the remainder of the day computing pre-test scores (that took two class days to administer), setting targets, entering that data into the computer, and then packing my bag with fifty additional tests to compute and enter over the weekend. These pre-tests, in essence, are supposed to show the teacher overall strengths and weaknesses of the students and serve as a guide of what to spend time teaching over the course of the year.

The idea seems valid: kids don’t know the information on the pretest so they do poorly. Teachers teach the information over the remaining months of the year. Kids learn the information. Kids show improvement on the test.  In theory, it makes sense. But New York State doesn’t realize that our kids are smart cookies and they’ve figured this out. High schoolers know this doesn’t count as a grade. They know they don’t know anything on the pre-test. They know that they have to sit through a weeks worth of tests on material they don’t know–even in their elective classes such as PE and art. They also have perfected tuning out the teachers who are insisting that they give an honest effort, that they try their hardest, that they show what they know.  In turn, they create designs that spell out ‘YOLO’ on their Scantron forms and write a response that says, ‘Unicorns are cute and I like tacos’ for the written response portion, or simply #angrytroll.

How is this helping show my effectiveness as a teacher?

I’m willing to bet that 98% of teachers know their strengths and weaknesses in the classroom. My effectiveness as a teacher, and my ability to be an honest professional should be reflecting on those strengths and weaknesses and working with administration and teacher teams to collaborate and grow as a district. Teachers want to teach, we want to create, we want to make learning a valuable experience for the children in our classrooms. We did not become teachers to collect data. Our data is in the form of your children and believe me when I say that we know your children better than a test does. We know they are more than a score, we know what they know and what they need to know and we need the general public to put their faith back in us to effectively do our jobs.

*Please note that I am speaking from direct experience with my own district in New York State. All district’s APPR plans vary, so please use the link provided in paragraph two to research your own district. I cannot speak to how other states are conducting their teacher evaluation plans. 

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About Mrs Momblog

Mom of 3, wife of 1, teacher of 103. Sarcastic always.
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12 Responses to Teacher Evaluations and Your Child

  1. amanda willis says:

    This is all happening because of the new Common Core Curriculum! The testing of material they haven’t learned, the teachers having no choice in what and how to teach the material if they want job security (by the reflection of high scores from the testing) It was developed and implemented in a such a way that most did not know the facts and believed what they were told (and why wouldn’t they?) Bill Gates said this was all an experiment and we won’t know for about 10 years the rate of success. ( I’m paraphrasing, but look it up) Classic literature is being cut down to 20% in English and the rest will be informational text that they read and then are tested on, no creative writing or personal essays will be included.Look up both sides of this in your own state. It’s all very disturbing in my opinion.

  2. Heidi Indelicato says:

    I agree 100% with you Amanda!! This is why so many of us will fight to change the problems with Common Core and the Assessments. NYS was sought out for its education. People moved to our area for the education! They(and we all know who “they” are ) are ruining it. We need to fight this beast until change is made. I believe it can and will be if we all unite , teachers and parents!!!! Our kids deserve better.

  3. In New Jersey we have a similar evaluation process being implemented this year. Not only is the process only slowly being explained to us (therefore leaving us in dark about what we are expected to do) but many times so far, we have been told information that is not accurate. I have been online for what most likely adds up to several hours doing my own research to better understand the process. I am very proud of what I do as a teacher and I have no doubt that if I were ever randomly evaluated (even by the Governor himself) for the way I follow the curriculum, my methods of differentiation, or my varied lesson formats, the evaluator would conclude that I go above and beyond to do my job. However, these new “Student Growth Objectives” or SGO’s as they are called in NJ and “Teach Scape” evaluations have proven to take hours of dedication for the teacher, the supervisor and the Principal for what seems to be the exact same outcome. We had an hour meeting after school last week to discuss and plan our SGO’s – time taken away from helping several of my students organize their notes for an up-coming test. This is what the state is deciding is best for the kids!?

  4. Mrs. D says:

    “We know they are more than a score, we know what they know and what they need to know and we need the general public to put their faith back in us to effectively do our jobs.” says it all. Keep up the fight.

  5. Frau K says:

    Are the targets that are set completely up to teachers? Are teachers feeling the need to dumb things down/ inflate scores to make certain that they get good scores themselves?

    • Mrs Momblog says:

      The targets are set by teachers. For example, if a student has a score of 0-25 then the target increase is different than a student with score between 75-100. In my particular case (I cannot speak for all teachers) I set the target. For local measure I again set the target. I don’t dumb thing down, but again I can’t speak for every teacher. That is certainly a good question though.

  6. Mike says:

    Happening in Colorado as well. In the end it does not build stronger or better teachers, or better students. Just headaches and fear in the minds of younger teachers and causes seasoned teachers to retire early because the drudgery of the paperwork is not worth it and, again, does not serve the purpose it is supposedly designed for. It “looks good” especially to those who have vilified unions and for some ignorant reasons think teachers have it easy because they have summers off (which I have only had one in 26 years of teaching.).

  7. I so very much appreciate reading your reflections on the state of teaching. I left the classroom a few years ago to stay home with my children for a couple of years. It was just when things were getting really nasty for teachers politically and in the media, and I was getting really burned out. I am planning to return to teaching next year, and your posts eloquently remind me at how important it is that we keep saying these things as long as we have to.

  8. peggymsu89 says:

    The saddest part is that telling teachers to create Student Learning Objectives seems to imply that they did not have any objectives for students previously. If an evaluation system like this were put into place for the government and educational officials who are enforcing the idea for teachers, we wouldn’t have anyone in office any more. Maybe that is the solution, to ask Commissioner King to meet our criteria and create his own SLO’s. He already can’t answer the majority of questions being asked about NYS’s implementation of CC, and is backpedaling on how they should be used. I would love to know what his SLO’s are for the program and see his comprehensive plan for implementing them. What will his pretest for teachers look like and how will he measure progress?

  9. Well done, Momblog! Also, thoughtful comments from the rest of you. Though my argument isn’t the standards, per se, the implementation and the tie to the ridiculous assessments and the APPR ruin anything positive that could come from the CC. Check out my latest contribution to the WordPress community. We had John King at our local high school. It was silly. Read this to get my perspective: principalpollak.wordpress.com.

    • Mrs Momblog says:

      Thank you! There has been a lot of confusion surrounding CC and then APPR and refusing testing. I just wanted to inform people what the difference was. I’ll head over to your page now to read your post. Thanks for commenting! Have a great Sunday (if I remember correctly, you are from downstate so I think my Bills are playing your Jets today. GO BILLS!)

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