June 02, 2010

Practitioners' voice to guide law's implemenation

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: New York Teacher

An advisory committee that will include NYSUT and practitioners will have a key role in helping to define the details in the new teacher/principal evaluation system.

"The committee will give practitioners a strong voice in defining student growth, multiple measures, the role of environmental factors in student learning and key elements of a fair evaluation system," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira.

"Locals will influence the development of the new system using collective bargaining as a tool to strengthen our profession," she said.

The Teacher and Principal Advisory Committee, which is expected to be appointed by the Board of Regents, will include representatives of teachers, principals, superintendents of schools, school boards, school districts and other stakeholders.

"The advisory committee will give us another partnership in the implementation of the teacher/principal effectiveness legislation," Neira said. "It will be our opportunity for practitioners to influence the direction and guidance from SED on implementation."

For example, the advisory committee will be a key vehicle to ensure that growth measures will reflect where students are and make sure that measures take into account students with disabilities and English language learners.

Other key discussion points will be how to evaluate teachers in non-tested areas; how to factor in the role of teaching and learning conditions such as class size and students living in poverty; and what multiple measures might be negotiated at the local level.

The committee will also provide guidance on professional teaching standards and benchmarks for a continuum of system support for teachers and principals.

Regulations are to be effective on July 1, 2011, for implementation in the 2011-12 school year.

Practitioners on the committee will benefit from the work being done by the NYSUT Innovation Fund project to pilot a new comprehensive teacher evaluation system.

The project will inform the discussion of teaching standards and multiple measures.

"Our work has only just begun and the most difficult tasks are still ahead of us," said Rod Sherman, president of the Plattsburgh TA and a NYSUT Board member whose local is involved in the Innovation Fund workgroup.

Connecting student learning and test results to teacher evaluation "is a long overdue conversation," Sherman said. "This really opens up the door to reform that will hopefully guide the rest of the nation."

Through the work of the Advisory Committee, NYSUT is positioned to move forward our teacher effectiveness initiative, Neira said.