March 2013 Issue
February 27, 2013

More than 200 districts using NYSUT's teacher rubric for APPR

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United

A total of 206 school districts have chosen NYSUT's Teacher Practice Rubric as the centerpiece of their teacher evaluation plan.

The participating districts are in every region of the state, employing more than 37,000 teachers and serving nearly half a million students. They range in size from the 25-teacher St. Regis Falls district in the North Country to Buffalo's city district of nearly 3,000 teachers.

"We wanted a rubric that would be as teacher-friendly as possible," said Spencerport Teachers Association President John Kozlowski. "We also wanted a strong professional development element — we had a joint presentation that teachers and the district did together and it was invaluable for getting things started."

NYSUT's Teacher Practice Rubric, one of 12 tools approved by the State Education Department to meet the state's new Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) process, was developed by six labor-management teams participating in NYSUT's Innovation Initiative.

"What makes the Teacher Practice Rubric unique is that it was developed collaboratively by labor-management teams with the belief that evaluations should be used as a tool to support instruction," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira. "It was phased in thoughtfully in our six pilot districts and field-tested extensively, with adjustments along the way."

The NYSUT rubric is specifically aligned to the state's Teaching Standards and backed up with crucial professional development for teachers and evaluators. It uses multiple measures for evaluation and establishes a common language/understanding for professional growth development. The teacher is an active participant in the process, with conversations about professional practice, self-reflection and goal-setting.

"I can't imagine implementing such a large shift in practice without substantial support," said Schenectady Federation of Teachers President Juliet Benaquisto, whose district sent teams of teachers and administrators from each building for professional development.

"There's a big learning curve: Our introductory preparation was absolutely essential to ease the transition," said Canandaigua TA leader Cheryl Birx. "For our teachers, using a rubric is a dramatic new approach to evaluation."

To support districts using the NYSUT rubric, the union's Education & Learning Trust offers extensive professional development. NYSUT is also planning a series of regional meetings to support the use of the rubric.

To learn more about the rubric, a key element of NYSUT's Teacher Evaluation and Development system, go to Resources include an implementation guide and more.

ELT offers a wide range of support, including an Educator Academy, Evaluator Academy and courses to help teachers with transitioning to the new evaluation process.

Go to the ELT site,, or call 800-528-6208.