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New York State Education News: Educator Evaluations and Student Test Scores

June 21st, 2018

Classroom of diverse students taking objective testing in school.Educator evaluations and student test scores is a critical topic that will shape dialogue in the 2018/2019 school year. What follows is a summary of news stories that school administrators across the State of New York should be monitoring as they strategically assess program goals and districtwide initiatives for the coming school year.

New York State Assembly Passes Bill that Will Stop Student Test Scores from Impacting Teacher and Principal Evaluations

In May 2018, the New York State Assembly passed a bill that will stop schools from requiring that student standardized test scores be used as a criteria factor in evaluating teacher and principal performance. A New York State law adopted in 2015 requires up to 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to be based on the results of annual state exams. For teachers of grades three through eight, criteria must include growth scores, a factor that many often criticize as being nebulous and irrelevant.

Teacher unions across the state are relieved by the decision to decouple students’ test scores from teacher and principal performance. Andy Pallotta, president of the New York State Teacher’s Union (NYSTU), was quoted in the New York Daily News as saying, “This bill would return control over teacher evaluations to local school districts and teachers, allowing them to collectively bargain systems that help teachers grow professionally while meeting the unique needs of their students.”

The Democrat & Chronicle quoted New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) as saying, “It has become increasingly clear that standardized tests do not fully account for the diversity of our student populations.”

The New York State Assembly Bill will require the state Education Department to establish alternative evaluation criteria.

Advocates for a link between standardized test scores and educator evaluations argue that using test scores as a criterium for educator performance is a motivating factor for teacher effectiveness. Contrarily, proponents of the decoupling, while relieved, argue the Assembly Bill does not go far enough to deemphasize the use of student scores in evaluating teacher performance.

Many expect that parents who have opted their children out of standardized tests to display their disagreement with the rigors of the current testing requirements and a concern that teaches are placing unnecessary pressure on students to excel in those standardized tests that will impact their personal evaluations will continue to opt their children out of testing. Jeanette Deutermann, the chief organizer of Long Island Opt Out, a regional parent network, was quoted by as saying, “This deal has nothing to do with children — it doesn’t take the burden off.”

New York State Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif said the measure is still under review, and the moratorium is due to expire at the end of the 2018/2019 school year.

The Potential Impact on Your School District

When classes resume in the fall, be prepared for there still to be some dialogue and debate on the topic of test scores impacting educator assessments, as well as the broader discussion surrounding standardized testing requirements among teachers, union representatives, parents, and student advocates. If your school district does not already have established performance evaluation criteria for teachers and principals, or if student standardized test scores were a component that now needs to be removed, use the summer months to begin reassessing your evaluation criteria. Ensure you have performance assessment solutions in place to effectively and continuously monitor performance and keep teachers and principals engaged in their goal-setting and achievement processes.

About SuperEval:

SuperEval is the only online evaluation tool in New York created to help districts simplify the evaluation process for superintendents, principals and school administrators. If you’d like to learn more about how SuperEval can help with your evaluations, please give us a call at 1-844-312-3825.

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