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Regents propose new evaluation appeals process

New York Teacher

Following intense lobbying by the UFT, NYSUT and parents, a divided state Board of Regents on Sept. 16 delayed giving its final approval to the new teacher evaluation system Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed through the state Legislature earlier this year. Instead, the board proposed three significant changes aimed at making the process fairer.

The Regents proposed creating an appeals process to address aberrations in growth scores. The appeal would be available to teachers rated Ineffective on their state-provided growth score and Highly Effective on other measures of teacher effectiveness in the current year and rated Effective or Highly Effective on other measures of teacher effectiveness on the state-provided growth score the previous year.

Another proposed change would ensure that privacy protections the UFT and NYSUT fought for in state law two years ago to bar the release to the public of individual teachers’ growth scores will remain in force.

The Regents also is considering the creation of a hardship waiver for school districts that find it difficult to hire outside evaluators, as required by the new regulations, because of financial or geographic limitations.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the Regents’ proposed changes will lead to some limited progress.

“The changes to teacher evaluation urged by Commissioner [Mary Ellen] Elia and adopted by the Regents are important steps in the right direction, particularly in terms of addressing the inequities that the current growth-score model produces for teachers at both the high and low ends of the student performance spectrum,” Mulgrew said. “However, much more needs to be done to create an accurate and effective evaluation system for teachers across New York State.”

As suggested by the board’s split 10–6 vote to temporarily extend the new regulations, many Regents also are concerned about the overall evaluation system. Three Regents who represent New York City were among those voting no.

In addition, the Regents directed state Education Commissioner Elia to review the entire evaluation system and take input from all stakeholders, including classroom teachers.

All of the proposed changes and the regulations as a whole are now subject to a 30-day public comment period before they come before the Regents again later this year.