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Evaluation agreement announced

UFT: It’s ‘simpler, fairer and, most important, more closely tied to classroom work’
New York Teacher
UFT President Michael Mulgrew (left), speaking at a press conference Dec. 21 at
Miller Photography

UFT President Michael Mulgrew (left), speaking at a press conference on Dec. 21 at Department of Education headquarters , says a new teacher evaluation agreement answers the question, “If not tests, then what?” Listening are (from left) parents Marlene Brito; Melanie Mendonca, the president of Brooklyn’s District 23 Community Education Council; Shanny Bang; and Mona Youssef; and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña (at right).

The UFT and the city Department of Education on Dec. 21 announced an agreement that aligns the city’s teacher evaluation system with the changes made in a 2015 state law.

“With this agreement, we are starting to replace tests with real work that captures what a student learns over the course of a school year,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said. “The teacher evaluation system will become simpler, fairer and, most important, more closely tied to classroom work.”

Measures of Teacher Practice chart

The new state law required each school district to negotiate the details of new evaluation plans with its unions. The UFT’s main goal in negotiations with the DOE, Mulgrew said, was to incorporate more authentic ways to measure student learning.

Looking ahead

More authentic assessments of student learning

The DOE and the UFT are working to build out four learning measures for other subjects and grades. When completed, they will be available as part of every school’s MOSL selection process. The new options will be collaboratively developed by the UFT and the DOE and expanded in later years into grades and subjects where both the UFT and the DOE believe their inclusion in evaluation will be fair for teachers and beneficial for schools.

All measures of student learning must conform to grade- and subject-level standards and curriculum. But whatever assessment a school chooses, it will not have the same high stakes it carried in the past because of the matrix scoring chart.

The four measures of student learning under development (up from two this school year) are:

• Project-Based Learning Assessments (new): These are at least partly composed of work students have developed over time in conjunction with a specific project-based learning unit. This might include science experiments or art projects;

• Student Learning Inventories (new): These collections of student work will include both DOE-developed components and classroom artifacts (student work) that capture student growth;

• Performance-Based Assessments: These assessments measure how well a student performs a specific task. Already part of the evaluation system, they may be expanded into additional grades and subjects starting in 2017–18; and

• Progress-Monitoring Assessments: These are third-party assessments that allow teachers to assess academic performance, such as running records, Degrees of Reading Power or Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. This measure also is part of the current system.

More observation options

There will continue to be four observation options. But starting in the 2017–18 school year, teachers rated Effective will have a third option, Observation Option 3, which previously was only available to teachers rated Highly Effective. And teachers rated Highly Effective will now be able to choose Observation Option 4.

Observation Option 1: A minimum of one formal classroom observation and three informal, unannounced observations is required.

Observation Option 2: A minimum of six informal, unannounced classroom observations is required.

Observation Option 3 (for teachers rated Effective or Highly Effective): The principal or other evaluator conducts four informal, unannounced observations, and the teacher makes his or her classroom available for two nonevaluative visits from a colleague.

Observation Option 4 (for teachers rated Highly Effective): The principal or other evaluator makes three informal, unannounced observations, and the teacher makes his or her classroom available for three nonevaluative visits from a colleague.

“With these authentic assessments that will be developed, we’ll be able to find out more about what students are actually learning,” he explained. “That’s the feedback from teachers. They want data they can use.”

The statewide moratorium on the use of state math and ELA tests in grades 3 to 8 in teacher evaluations remains in effect for three more years, including the current school year.

Mulgrew, in an email announcing the new agreement, called on teachers to join the lobbying effort to make the moratorium permanent. “That would lock in this new focus on authentic measures of student learning,” he wrote.

Starting this school year, teachers will have one measure of student learning instead of two, and they will no longer receive a final score between 0 and 100. Instead, a new matrix mandated by the state law will combine the teacher’s rating of Highly Effective, Effective, Developing or Ineffective on the Measures of Teaching Practice and the teacher’s HEDI rating on Measures of Student Learning (MOSL) to determine the teacher’s final rating [see “How the matrix works” on this page].

In the effort to have a seamless transition to the new system, only two changes will take effect this school year: the use of the matrix and the use of one measure of student learning. Everything else about the evaluation system will stay the same. For example, the observation option that teachers selected at the start of the year will not change and the Teacher Improvement Plan for teachers rated Developing or Ineffective will stay the same for this school year.

In January, school-based MOSL committees will choose the student learning measures their schools will use this school year from choices similar to those available in 2015–16. When the principal and the school MOSL committee do not agree, a schoolwide default measure, selected by the schools chancellor in consultation with the union, will be used.

The DOE and the UFT are working together to develop — and are contractually obligated to create — more authentic assessments of student learning that must be fully implemented by the 2020–21 school year [see “More authentic assessments of student learning” on this page].

Under the new system, there still will be four observation options, but starting in the 2017–18 school year, teachers rated Effective or Highly Effective in the previous year will have more options [see the “More observation options” on this page].

Also starting in 2017–18, the requirements for the Teacher Improvement Plan have been modified. The plan will include a maximum of three areas of improvement related to the teacher’s Ineffective or Developing rating, two determined by a supervisor and the other by the teacher.

Up to 13 percent of the total number of teachers rated Ineffective may still be chosen by the UFT to appeal their rating to a special panel if the UFT determines the rating was based on harassment or factors other than their job performance. But beginning in 2017–18, teachers rated Developing may also be included in that 13 percent.

“We targeted things in the evaluation system that didn’t serve teachers and students,” Mulgrew said. “We achieved what we set out do to: have school-level accountability that reflects our values.”