September 2017 Issue - APPR/Teacher Evaluation
August 30, 2017

NYSUT: Return teacher evals to local control

Author: By Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United

No more tinkering or fixing.

It's time to scrap the state's Annual Professional Performance Review law entirely — and return control to local school districts and teachers unions to develop their own evaluation plans.

"Using student test scores derived from a broken testing system to measure teachers is not only grossly unfair, it's inaccurate," said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. "This must change now."

As the new school year begins and we enter the third year of a four-year moratorium on the use of state grades 3–8 tests in teacher evaluation, NYSUT wants policymakers to develop a new state system that allows school districts and local unions to decide how to evaluate teachers.

The new system should:

  • return teacher evaluations to local control;
  • eliminate the requirement for student performance to be a mandatory part of teacher evaluations; and
  • strengthen professional practice.

The goals are at the heart of a series of resolutions approved unanimously this spring by delegates to NYSUT's Representative Assembly.

The resolutions note the current APPR law has created significant anxiety and controversy at the local level, over-emphasizing state standardized tests and sparking the largest opt-out movement in the nation. They also point out that the current data-driven law has been invalidated by both the courts and national researchers.

"NYSUT's legal team has already won court and arbitration battles exposing the fatal flaws of APPR and confirming the need to change this obnoxious evaluation system," one resolution states. "No other profession is subject to such a demeaning process of evaluation."

NYSUT's campaign will first get the word out to the Regents and the State Education Department, which are working this fall to devise recommendations for a new system. The federal government no longer requires the use of state standardized tests in teacher evaluations, so this gives states considerably more leeway to devise their own systems.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has promised to take a slow and deliberative approach on APPR, with a workgroup including teams of teachers and administrators.
She likened the process to diffusing a bomb: "This is going to be very careful work. Like in the movies when you see a bomb is there and somebody has a clipper and they're trying to decide whether to go red or green," she said.

NYSUT urges the Regents to develop a legislative proposal for the 2018 session to get rid of the current APPR and bring back a locally negotiated teacher evaluation system that focuses on strengthening professional practice.

NYSUT wants the Regents and Legislature to allow districts to develop an evaluation system that meets their needs.

"We're not against evaluations," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango, the union's liaison with the Regents and SED. "But the time has come to reduce test anxiety for students and create a meaningful evaluation process that actually supports teachers and students."

Take Action

Join the fight to get rid of the current APPR

Go to NYSUT's Member Action Center, mac.nysut.org, and sign a petition pledging to join educators and parents in the fight to end the current APPR.