June 4, 2013

A game changer for teachers and students in NYC

This past Saturday should go down as a game changer in the history of education in New York City for two reasons. 

First, NY State Education Commissioner John King announced the details of the City’s principal and teacher evaluation plans. They are great for teachers and great for students. 

Second, his plan very clearly reflects the voice of teachers – your voices. It includes almost all the recommendations in “Beyond Satisfactory,” the 2011 E4E Teacher Policy Team paper on teacher evaluation and includes multiple opportunities for teachers to weigh in during the implementation process.

The highlights:

  • Flexible observations: Teachers can choose between two observation options: either 1 formal and 3 informal observations, or 6 informal observations. Teachers will be observed using all components of the Danielson Rubric, which has been piloted in over 300 schools in New York City.
  • Video: Teachers have the option to use video to improve the quality of both the observation and the feedback.
  • Student surveys: Student surveys have been proven to be one of the best measures of teacher performance. In 2013-2014, the city will pilot student surveys for grades 3-12, using the well-tested Tripod Survey. The following year student surveys will count towards 5% of the evaluation.
  • School-based control over local measures:  A committee of teachers — half chosen by the union and half by the principal — will make a recommendation from a state defined menu of student growth measures as to what will be used for 20 percent of teachers’ evaluation at their school. The principal can take their recommendation or use school wide growth as the default measure.

Tomorrow, look out for a complete summary of what the plan includes here at Educators4Excellence.org. 

A thank you

In the meantime, thanks to E4E members for all your hard work over the past two years. Whether you were on the Teacher Policy Team; advocated with Chancellor Walcott, UFT President Mulgrew, or Commissioner King at an E4E event; rallied in front of City Hall; spoke in our video or TV ads; signed or circulated the petition; or shared your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter, you helped make this happen. Your voice was heard.

The work ahead

A plan is only as good as its implementation and we hope the city and the union get to work quickly to make sure principals and teachers are thoroughly trained and are ready to make the most of this opportunity. We expect you will be leaders in this exciting challenge in your schools and citywide. 

That’s why we’re particularly excited to share the work of our 2013 Teacher Evaluation Implementation Policy Team, which we will launch on June 19th. The recommendations of this team will focus on how we transfer this policy from ideas on paper into meaningful action in our schools and classrooms.

What you can do

After you’ve had a chance to study the plan, we’d love to know what you think. Send us an email at info@educators4excellence.org, and thank Governor Cuomo on Facebook and Twitter, and Commissioner King on Twitter for their thoughtful leadership. And reserve your seat for June 19th to discuss some great ideas on implementing the system with our Teacher Evaluation Implementation Policy Team.

Jonathan Schleifer is the executive director of Educators 4 Excellence-New York.