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Q&A on the Issues

Teacher evaluation for the 2020-21 school year

You Should Know

DOE MOSL documents for the 2020-21 school year: 

The UFT and the DOE reached agreement on a teacher evaluation system for the 2020-21 school year that is fair and simple and takes into account this year's extraordinary working conditions. Under this agreement, most UFT members will receive only one informal observation and members who have already had successful walkthroughs will not need to receive any additional observations at all. 

The following FAQ provides answers to commonly asked questions about the new agreement. Contact your chapter leader or UFT district representative if you have further questions.

How many times will I be observed during the 2020-21 school year?

Most teachers will receive a minimum of one observation. Teachers who received an Ineffective or Unsatisfactory rating for the 2018-19 school year will receive one informal and one formal observation. Teachers who received any other rating in 2018-19 or did not receive a rating that year will receive one informal observation.

Substitute teachers will not be rated according to this evaluation system. Where state law requires a rating for substitutes, they will be rated Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.

If a teacher receives a written report with an overall observation rating of Developing or Ineffective on this first observation, the teacher will receive a second formal observation with a pre-observation conference.

Can’t teacher evaluations just be suspended as they were last school year?

We are bound by New York State law which requires teachers to be evaluated each year using a research-based method, a standardized rubric and measures of student learning. Last spring, the governor issued an executive order to waive that law for the 2019-20 school year, but has thus far declined to issue such a waiver for this school year.

Have any changes been made to the Danielson Rubric this year?

Yes. The UFT made sure that teachers would not be evaluated on things beyond their control, such as the number of students attending class or the amount of time remote students spend logged in.

Only domains in the Danielson Rubric that can be seen or observed will count in this year’s evaluations. No specific number of domains can be required. There is no requirement that a teacher be observed in all eight components this year. 

The UFT worked to change the language of 3C - Engaging Students in Learning to require evaluators to focus on what the teacher says and does, not what students say and do. Teachers will be evaluated on opportunities created to foster student engagement, rather than the number of students with microphones and cameras turned on or off.

If my principal observed me informally earlier in the school year, can one of those observations be used to calculate my final rating?

If a walkthrough observation has been completed and the teacher received an Effective or Highly Effective rating, that prior observation can count as the teacher's observation. No further observation would be required. Developing or Ineffective ratings from informal observations earlier in the year cannot be used.

Does my principal need to conduct an initial planning conference (IPC) with me prior to any observations?

An IPC is encouraged, but is not required this year unless the teacher previously received a final rating of Ineffective for the 2018-19 school year. If a principal chooses to hold initial planning conferences, no paperwork may be involved.

Will summative conferences be held this school year?

A summative conference is not required this year unless the teacher’s year-end Measures of Teacher Practice score is Developing or Ineffective.

Are we being rated on the Danielson framework for Remote Teaching document this year?

No. Evaluators will rate teachers for evaluative purposes on the New York City Measures of Teacher Practice (MOTP) rubric, based on the original Danielson Framework for Teaching. Your final rating will be determined by the same matrix as the 2018-19 school year.

Will members teaching remotely and in-person be rated using the same rubric? 

Yes, all teachers will be evaluated using the New York City Measures of Teacher Practice (MOTP) rubric, based on the original Danielson Framework for Teaching, whether they are remote, blended or in-person. 

How will our Measures of Student Learning rating be determined this year? What choices do we have regarding choosing an assessment to use for our MOSL rating?

School-based Measures of Student Learning (MOSL) school committees will be responsible for recommending selection of the assessments for the required student performance subcomponent. For the 2020-21 school year only, all teachers in a specific school will receive the same measure. All decisions of the school-based MOSL committee must be recommended to the principal, who shall either accept or reject the recommendations of the committee.

If the principal does not accept the recommendations of the committee, then a city-wide default for the 2020-21 school year only, which will be set by the chancellor in consultation with the central MOSL Committee, will be used. The MOSL committee can also recommend this city-wide default measure.

When can my principal start observing me now that this evaluation agreement is in place?

Your principal can begin observing you on Tuesday, March 9, once training has been provided to evaluators on this new agreement. If you require a second observation this year, your principal cannot observe you again for evaluative purposes until you receive a written report from your first observation.

Will I be rated poorly if I have difficulty with my students turning on their video cameras?

The agreement states that evaluators should focus on ways teachers are fostering student engagement, rather than the number of students with microphones and cameras turned on or off.

How long will this specific evaluation agreement be in effect?

This agreement is only valid for the 2020-21 school year.

Can my observation be videotaped or recorded?

It is your choice if you would like to submit a videotaped or recorded lesson in lieu of an observation. The use of video as an alternative observational tool may only be used with the express written consent of the teacher and must not be longer than 20 minutes in length. Teachers who select this option must notify their principal by April 6, 2021 and submit their video by May 7, 2021.

Can I choose to be observed formally?

You may request a formal observation, but it is at the principal’s discretion.

How can I file a complaint or appeal if I feel my rating was calculated improperly?

The rating appeals process for a final rating remains the same. However, prior to receiving a final rating this year, teachers who believe they have been initially rated improperly as the result of a procedural violation can seek help through a complaint resolution process created for this school year only. These resolution requests can be filed on the basis of procedural violations, such as an evaluator citing evidence outside the definitions of rubric components.

A teacher will have five days to file a resolution request through their chapter leader and a principal will then have five days to come up with a resolution that is mutually agreed upon. If an agreed-upon resolution cannot be reached, the issue will be elevated to the Central APPR Committee, which will make a determination at its next meeting.

What is the deadline for all observations to be conducted this school year?

All formal and informal observations must have take place by June 11, 2021.

Will I be rated if I am a substitute teacher?

Substitute teachers will not be rated according to this evaluation system. Where state law requires a rating for substitutes, they will be rated Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.