Three Pace professors today put out a statement slamming New York’s new teacher evaluation system.
The statement comes from: Christine Clayton, chair of the Education Department at Pace’s Westchester campus in Pleasantville; Beth Kava, lecturer and coordinator of adolescent education; and Mary Rose McCarthy, associate professor.
Here’s the statement:
The last twenty years of research has shown that the quality of a child’s teachers is the most critical, in-school factor for student learning. The movement to develop new teacher evaluation systems stems from a desire to increase teacher quality. Ideally, a teacher evaluation system would enhance teacher performance by supporting the growth and development of professional learning communities to assist teachers in identifying strengths and weaknesses, in creating an internal accountability structure built on a climate of trust, and in committing to a shared set of beliefs about learning.
Instead what we have in New York State, under the current Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) system, is a costly gamble for New York taxpayers, school children, and teachers—an evaluation system that utilizes unproven tools to make high-stakes decisions about educators’ careers and provides little meaningful feedback to teachers. It relies heavily on the results of students’ standardized test scores—even, in some cases when the teacher who is being evaluated has had little control over instruction in the subject area being tested. It is a one-size-fits-all approach: an experienced veteran with a proven record of success is subject to the same evaluation process as a struggling or novice teacher. And it is a system intended to produce failure. By design, the scoring scale, which is created in secret by State Education Department and testing company “experts,” divides teachers’ scores into four levels and ensures that a certain percentage of teachers are rated ineffective each year.
Most seriously, however, the evaluation system may have unintended consequences that deter schools from improving their students’ success. It fails to measure and reward teachers for qualities that research tells us help children succeed in school—things like long-term commitment, relationships with students’ families and communities, and positive relationships with colleagues. The implementation of APPR dis-incentivizes risk-taking, fosters compliance over innovation, and has the potential to encourage teachers to “play it safe” or avoid assignments with the struggling and needy students who most need them.