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The Telegram
  • Teachers reviewing their evaluation results

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  • By now, New York teachers and principals should know whether they are considered "highly effective," ''ineffective" or somewhere in between.
    This week was the deadline for the state's nearly 700 school districts to complete state-mandated evaluations for the 2012-13 school year.
    Teachers and principals received a grade of 0 to 100 based on a combination of state and local measures. Those scoring 91-100 were rated "highly effective" while teaches with scores from 75-90 earned an "effective" rating. Teachers and principals scoring 65-74 and labeled "developing" or less than 64 and deemed "ineffective" can expect an improvement plan spelling out new training and goals within the next week.
    State officials have pushed the evaluations, part of a broader reform agenda, as a way to improve educators' effectiveness and in turn, boost student performance.
    Districts have to report their results to the state Education Department by mid-October. Until then, it's unknown how many of the state's teachers fall within any category, a department spokesman said.
    Parents can request their child's teacher's rating from their district. Otherwise, they'll remain private.
    Webster Thomas High School teacher Gregory Ahlquist characterized the wait for the scores as producing more curiosity than anxiety among his peers. And he said the numbers aren't something teachers are sharing over coffee.
    "My principal compared this number to our salary. Do teachers talk about their salaries? Sure, but rarely if ever do we go around advertising that number," the state's 2013 Teacher of the Year said.
    Liverpool High School science teacher Jeff Peneston acknowledged he scored a 95 — but don't congratulate him. He isn't putting much weight in this first round of scores, saying the evaluation system, while well-intended, is hardly the objective measure of performance it is meant to be.
    "People assume there is an equal yardstick being held up to all teachers. That could not be further from the truth," he said.
    Although the state provided a template for the evaluations — 20 percent based on student growth on state assessments or a similar measure, 20 percent based on a local measure of student achievement or growth and 60 percent based on classroom observations and other input — each district negotiated with their teachers to customize the system.
    "Even within any district, using the same rubric to try to evaluate a ninth-grade science teacher who teaches to a state test, as opposed to a special education teacher, as opposed to an art teacher, as opposed to an instrumental music teacher ... that's a fool's errand," Peneston said.
    The head of the state's largest teachers union criticized the state's decision to base the math and English assessments given to students in grades three through eight, the results of which factored into their teachers' scores, on newly adopted learning standards known as the Common Core. As expected, student scores dropped significantly.
    Page 2 of 2 - "This year's performance data is, in effect, meaningless," New York State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi said. "It doesn't accurately measure student achievement or teacher effectiveness."
    Education Commissioner John King has cautioned superintendents against relying too heavily on this year's standardized test results to measure teacher performance, saying they should be used as a new baseline for future tests.
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