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Evaluation problems 'worse than imagined'

UFT files grievances on systemic problems with teacher evaluation process
New York Teacher

The UFT has filed 17 union-initiated grievances over implementation of the new teacher evaluation system based on problems brought to the union’s attention by teachers, chapter leaders and district representatives around the city.

The grievances are over such issues as multiple evaluators coming into one classroom at the same time to observe a teacher and principals requiring teachers to submit written goals during the initial planning conference. The union believes neither of these is allowed under the evaluation system set up by state Education Commissioner John King’s order.

“We have been concerned since this order was handed down in June that the Department of Education would be unable to implement the evaluation system fairly,” President Michael Mulgrew said. “But the problems have been even worse than we had imagined.”

The city has 20 school days to respond to the grievances. After that, the UFT will begin to schedule the grievances for arbitration.

Unlike grievances over treatment of an individual member, union-initiated grievances reflect systemic issues.

The problem of principals demanding that teachers hand in written goals at the initial conference is, for example, widespread even though there is nothing in the commissioner’s order supporting such a mandate. At the initial planning conference, teachers are supposed to choose which observation option they want to use. While discussion of goals at this meeting is encouraged by the commissioner’s order, teachers cannot be ordered to provide written goals.

Another grievance concerns principals usurping the authority of each school’s committee on Measures of Student Learning (MOSL) to recommend assessments for use in teachers’ evaluations at that school. Principals aren’t supposed to make such decisions on assessments without first receiving the school committee’s recommendation. Each committee consists of members selected by the UFT chapter leader and the principal.

The union has also filed a grievance contending that some schools have failed to schedule the minimum number of hours required each month for staff to work on administering and grading baseline assessments.