Union resolutions

Teacher evaluation and the Danielson Framework for Teaching

WHEREAS the historic system for the evaluation of teachers in the New York City public schools is broken, as it lacks a clear and comprehensive set of standards for what constitutes effective teaching and it fails to provide teachers with meaningful feedback on their practice and opportunities for professional growth and development; and

WHEREAS in May 2010 the UFT and our state affiliate NYSUT reached an agreement with Regents’ Chancellor Tisch and New York State Commissioner of Education Steiner on the parameters of a new teacher evaluation system, and this agreement became the basis for a law which was passed by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor; and

WHEREAS this law established a framework for a new teacher evaluation system, but required that the full scope of the system be negotiated between local school districts and teacher unions; and

WHEREAS the UFT and the New York City Department of Education have negotiated aspects of the new teacher evaluation system as part of an agreement for Transformation and Restart schools in the School Improvement program, most of the new evaluation system remains to be negotiated; and

WHEREAS in our negotiations with the NYC DOE for Transformation and Restart Schools, the UFT advocated for the use of the Danielson Framework for Teaching with the portion of the new evaluation system that assesses teaching effectiveness, as it brought together the best professional work on the different components of effective teaching and drew upon the important work teacher unions have done in this area with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; and

WHEREAS the Danielson Framework is based on core principles that reflect our own vision of a good evaluation system:

  1. that evaluation must be centered on professional learning and professional growth,
  2. that for a good system of evaluation to take root, schools must build cultures of professional inquiry which encourage self-reflection and promote rich conversations about teaching practice, and
  3. that a good system of evaluation requires, as its foundation, a school environment of trust and collaboration among all educators; and

WHEREAS on September 20th, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, CSA President Ernie Logan and Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott sent a joint letter to all NYC public schools which explained that, until the full evaluation system was negotiated by the UFT and the DOE, no part of it — including the Danielson Framework — should be used in the evaluation of teachers1; and

WHEREAS this joint letter prohibits the use of the four point rating system — highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective — in the new law until the full system of evaluation is negotiated; and

WHEREAS this joint letter was clear in its instructions that until the full evaluation system is negotiated, the Danielson Framework should only be used for formative, professional development purposes, that is, to guide conversations on teaching practice, to develop the skills of clinical observation that focuses on evidence, and to practice written reports which are not part of official personnel files; and

WHEREAS it is essential for the integrity of the Danielson Framework that its implementation not be done in an arbitrary and capricious fashion, different from school to school depending on the whim of supervisors, and without fidelity to the core principles of professional inquiry, professional growth and development, collaboration and trust that define a good evaluation system; and

WHEREAS despite the joint letter and its clear instructions, there are schools where supervisors continue to use four point rating system in lesson observations and misuse the Danielson Framework, employing it for evaluative purposes in a ‘gotcha’ method of observations — in effect, establishing rogue systems of evaluation for their own schools; and

WHEREAS it is important that supervisors observe teaching in their school, there is no constructive educational purpose served by observation regimens that involve scores of ‘informal observations’ a week, lasting a few minutes at most and providing no meaningful feedback on teaching practice to teachers; and be it therefore

RESOLVED that the United Federation of Teachers [UFT] affirm our commitment to the development of a teacher evaluation system based on principles of professional inquiry, professional growth and development, collaboration and trust; and be it further

RESOLVED that the UFT calls upon the NYC Department of Education to enforce the clear directions of the joint Mulgrew-Logan-Walcott letter, directing supervisors to immediately cease and desist from the misuse of features of the new evaluation system until the entire system of evaluation is negotiated with the UFT; and be it further

RESOLVED that the UFT defend the integrity of the Danielson Framework of Teaching using all contractual, legal and other means at our disposal to stop its misuse in schools where supervisors are engaged in rogue evaluations that violate our members’ rights.


1 In Transformation and Restart schools only, those aspects of the new evaluation system specifically mentioned in the agreement for those schools, including the Danielson framework, may be used.

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Related topics: evaluation
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