March 2011
February 18, 2011

Evaluators train to field-test new observation model

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
Caption: NYSUT's Maria Neira thanks Valerie Barnett, Hempstead TA's project coordinator for the Innovation Initiative. Photo by Photos by El-Wise Noisette.

National experts spent an intensive week in Albany last month working with dozens of administrators, teachers and others from New York and Rhode Island who will pilot a new teacher observation model developed through the AFT's Innovation Fund.

Here in New York, the next step is for evaluators to field-test the observation model this spring in NYSUT's five Innovation Initiative districts: Albany, Marlboro, North Syracuse, Hempstead and Plattsburgh.

The rubric is aligned with the state's first-ever teaching standards approved in January by the Board of Regents. Those standards are:

  • knowledge of students and student learning;
  • knowledge of content and instructional planning; instructional practice;
  • learning environment;
  • assessment for student learning;
  • professional responsibilities and collaboration; and
  • professional growth.

The model evaluation system was designed by labor-management teams from the five school districts after extensive work with national experts for more than a year.

The Innovation Initiative partnership teams examined numerous teacher evaluation models currently being piloted around the country, and identified several multiple measures that could be used in collecting evidence for the observable as well as non-observable standards and elements.

The goal is to build a more comprehensive evaluation and support system that provides constructive, objective feedback and ongoing professional growth.

The pilot of the new evaluation model will include a pre-observation conference to discuss goals and lesson planning, at least two classroom visits, an evidence review and reflections during a final summative conference.

Evaluations will be done by the trainees, including input from peers and national experts using the new measurement rubric that should foster greater reliability among evaluators.

NYSUT's field-testing work is especially timely, as the Regents and State Education Department are developing details in the upcoming teacher/principal evaluation system that is scheduled to be phased in during the coming school year.

"This model is designed to correct what is wrong with current teacher evaluation systems, to build an effective process that improves teaching and student learning," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira. "What makes this model so different is that it was built collaboratively and carefully by practitioners who do the work every day and we're testing the new evaluation system before it is used for high-stakes decisions. .... What we learn from these experiences will help shape and inform the next generation of teacher evaluation."