By SARAH VARNEY
In response to “feedback we received,” Board of Regents President Meryl S. Tisch presided over a committeewide vote that did away with the portion of the Annual Professional Performance Review that ranked teachers statewide on how well students performed on annual Common Core standardized English Language Arts and Math Concepts exams.
Rye City Board of Education President Katy Keohane Glassberg expressed her approval of the demise of the ranking percentage.
“The board is very pleased with the four-year moratorium on using state tests as a major factor in evaluating teachers,” she said. “The pendulum is beginning to swing in the right direction, reducing the pressure around testing and allowing school districts to focus on using tests to inform instruction to benefit students.”
Rye City Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez said he is hopeful that the change will lead to a teacher evaluation system based on teaching.
Recently, state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, hinted to a group of Westchester school officials that positive changes would be coming soon. At the time, that indication…
was met with surprise and cautious optimism.
That’s because, as recently as last February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, spoke of his
intention to encourage the Board of Regents to increase the weighted percentage of test scores from 40 percent to 50 percent.
However, he left the final decision to the board.
Under a model that assigned 50 percent of the weight of a yearly evaluation for teachers, 30 percent would be based on Common Core standardized test scores and 15 percent would be based on “locally-determined assessments.” The remaining 5 percent was undetermined. However, that model
was never adopted due to the increasingly vocal controversy around Common Core testing and the fairness issue around test scores affecting teachers’ careers. The remaining 50 percent of the evaluation would be gathered by observing teachers in their classrooms during instructional time.
Now, by a vote of 15 to 1,
using a weighted percentage of tests as a means of evaluating teachers has been overturned. Tisch, who was the lone opposition to the measure, did not provide an explanation.
While the measure has been overturned, school administrators are still left with the vestiges, said Dr. Betty Anne Wyks, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Rye City School District. “I’m curious to see what guidance we’re going to get [from the New York State Education Department] for this. We’re still going to have to live by the testing rules until there’s a clear transition,” she said.
In addition, school district administrators will still have to calculate teacher evaluation scores according to the rules that are in place, and once a score is recorded, it is part of a teacher’s permanent record. Stepping carefully around the issue of fairness, Wyks said that a negative score recorded for a teacher under the current rules could still undermine that teacher’s confidence and motivation.
“Why record the score if it doesn’t matter?” she asked.
Area school community members, including parents, board members, and teachers’ reaction to the news of the test percentage elimination was met with enthusiasm.
President of the Mamaroneck Union Free School District’s Board of Education Ann LoBue reacted positively.
“I think it’s great. While it makes sense to me that student performance should be part of the evaluations, this methodology is flawed,” LoBue said.