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.”
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.
“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.”