May 07, 2015

BLOG: Learning Summit on Teacher and Principal Evaluations

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source:  NYSUT Communications
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We're posting highlights of today's Learning Summit over the course of the day. Look for a full report later tonight.


TUNE IN ALL DAY TODAY. The hearing will be streamed live online at It's scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For members of the public watching the Summit simulcast on the website, SED has set up an email address for Thursday, May 7 only:

JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON TWITTER. Be sure to follow @nysut and @nysednews for updates. Some are using the hashtags #ReclaimTheJoy and even - wait for it - #Evalapalooza.

Morning panels take on good, bad and ugly

Thursday, May 7, 2:15 p.m.

Both panels representing school superintendents and administrators strongly made the case for keeping what's good in the current evaluation system – and not amplifying what's bad.

"Follow the Hippocratic Oath found in the medical profession, by doing no harm," said Neil O'Brien, the Port Byron Superintendent who is president of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. "Make no regulation that takes away from the goods or the gain."

Among the most positive aspects of the current system, several panelists said, are the professional development conversations that are taking place between principals and teachers as part of the observation process. Panelists spoke out against the law's new requirement to require at least one observation be done by a so-called outside evaluator. This will not only be expensive but will also be very difficult logistically, panelists said.

"You must allow the principal to be the primary evaluator," said Olean Superintendent Colleen Taggerty.

"The observation part is the most successful part of APPR today," said Mark Cannizzaro, executive vice president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. "That's where we've seen the profession moving forward."

"As the saying goes, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it,' such as the dialogue between administrators and teachers about planning, teaching, and assessment which has never been stronger as a result of APPR," said Bedford Superintendent Jere Hochman.

Administrators also made the case for SED to allow districts to keep using existing rubrics, saying an enormous amount of time, training and energy have gone into using three or four key rubrics.

Other evaluation provisions worth "saving" would be prohibited under the new law: using an educator's goal setting, lesson plans, student surveys, and other artifacts. Administrators suggested finding ways to continue including these items in evaluations, perhaps as part of observations.

"We need to maximize ‑ not minimize ‑ allowable evidence," said Carol Conklin-Spillane, principal of Sleepy Hollow High School.

Jim Viola, director of governmental relations for School Administrators Association of New York State, urged the Regents avoid expanding what is not working.

"Don't amplify the parts of APPR that are problematic such as state-generated growth scores," Viola said. "We don't want principals, teachers and students to be collateral damage for a system that is rushed and forced fit."

Viola, a former SED senior staffer, said the law's deadlines must be extended, or the Regents will need to broaden the definition of what districts may apply for "hardship" waivers. "Every school district and BOCES will experience an extreme hardship," Viola said. The State Education Department itself should be able to apply for a hardship exemption!"

Taggerty urged the Regents to do what they can to mitigate the bad aspects of the new law. "Please be courageous and bold, make the right decisions for all districts."

Learning summit on teacher eval begins

Thursday, May 7, 9:53 a.m.

One thing the Regents have learned this year is the power and importance of listening. That’s what they’re committed to do today at the Learning Summit on Teacher and Principal Evaluation, said Regent Lester Young and Regent Tony Bottar, who set the stage for the day ahead.

“We as a board are committed to real engagement … a willingness to listen and learn,” Young said. As the Regents move forward to create regulations for a new teacher evaluation system, Young said they are trying to find a “common balance” between what the law requires and stakeholders’ expectations.

Bottar likened the Regents’ work to a school project, where “it’s a big assignment and there’s not enough time.” But he said the Regents intend to meet the law’s June 30 deadline to develop the regulations. Bottar stressed today’s summit is an event, but not the only one. He said individual Regents will conduct smaller events in their respective districts in the coming weeks.

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