As part of a new $142 billion budget, state lawmakers are expected to approve a multi-layered plan Tuesday to revamp New York’s system for evaluating its public-school teachers and principals.
So how will it all work?
Here’s a Q and A laying the whole process out and exploring what happens next:
Q: What does the new budget do?
A: Broadly, the budget requires the commissioner of the state Education Department to set up regulations for a statewide system for rating teachers and principals each year. But the budget also requires the commissioner to follow a set of rules that set the broad parameters of the system and, in some cases, lay out instances in which a teacher’s rating must be limited.
Under state education law, the regulations would have to be approved by the Board of Regents, the state’s education policy board.
Q: What will the evaluation system look like?
A: In some ways, the new system will look like the state’s current teacher-evaluation model, in that part of a teacher’s score will be based on classroom observations with the rest based on students’ year-to-year growth on test scores. Teachers will still be given one of four ratings: Highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective.
On the testing side, the teacher’s rating will be based on how their students perform on the existing state-standardized tests, including Regents exams and the math and English tests administered to grades 3 through 8. Each school district and their local teachers unions, however, will have the option to administer a second round of state-approved tests, which would keep the testing portion of the teacher evaluation from being based on a single round of exams.
On the observation side, part of the teacher’s score will be based on observations by the school principal. Another portion would be based on observations from an “independent” party, which the law allows to be a teacher from the same district but a different school. Local school districts would have the option of adding a third component: Observations from a highly rated teacher in the same school.
Q: How will the system be weighted?
A: That’s largely up to the rules set by the Education Department.
Currently, 60 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on observations and 40 percent is based on student growth, including 20 percent on state-mandated tests. Under the new system, the commissioner will ultimately decide how much weight test score growth will get compared to the observations, as well as when and how frequently the observations occur.
Q: Any other rules?
Under the new law, if a teacher is rated ineffective on either the testing or observation portion of his or her evaluation, the best overall rating that person could get is “developing.” If a school district opts for two rounds of testing and the teacher gets an ineffective rating on both tests, the teacher’s overall rating would be ineffective, regardless of how the education commissioner ultimately weighs the scores.
The law also prevents schools from using certain elements in evaluating their teachers and principals, including lesson plans and most student portfolios.
Q: What ramifications would teachers face?
A: If a teacher gets an ineffective rating two years in a row, a school district would have the option of starting a proceeding to try and remove the teacher from the classroom. If a teacher gets three consecutive ineffective ratings, the district would be required to start the firing proceeding.
On the flip side, teachers that get a highly effective rating would be in line for a state-funded bonus. The budget allows school districts to request grants of up to $20,000 for each teacher that gets the top evaluation rating.
Q: Does the Education Department face a deadline?
A: Yes. The Education Department has until June 30 to have the regulations in place. School districts would then have until Nov. 15 to negotiate with their local teachers unions over whether to use two tests or one and whether peer teachers should be included on the observation side.
If a school district and their teachers are still at an impasse after the deadline, the district’s state funding would be frozen at the current year’s level.