More Than 90 Percent Of State Teachers Rate As Effective

According to early data, more than 90 percent of New York educators have been deemed “effective” in respect to their Annual Professional Performance Review plans.

Earlier this week, the state Education Department released its preliminary statewide evaluation composite ratings for teachers and principals during the 2012-13 academic year.

Required under the revised teacher and principal evaluation law that went into effect last year, the results are based on data submitted by individual school districts and BOCES prior to the Oct. 18 deadline. The preliminary data suggests that the majority of teachers and principals are performing at or above acceptable levels.

The teacher data shows 49.7 percent to be “highly effective” and 41.8 percent to be “effective” – a total of 91.5 percent – 4.4 percent were rated as “developing” and 1 percent were rated as “ineffective.” The principal data shows a total of 86.9 percent rated as either “effective” or “highly effective,” 7.5 percent as “developing” and 2.1 percent as “ineffective.”

Due to a small percentage of unreported scores, these totals do not entirely represent 100 percent of educators statewide. New York City educators were not included in the preliminary ratings as New York City is in the first year of implementing its APPR plans and no composite ratings for city teachers are yet available.

Tim Mains, Jamestown Public Schools superintendent, said the data is helpful in a large-scale sense – and will become more useful as more detailed reports are released – but he is taking a more microscopic approach to its interpretation.

“Not only are these numbers preliminary, but this is also the first year that we’re trying to follow a new (APPR) system,” Mains said. “And, like any new effort, I’m sure it will get better with more practice. But the purpose of an evaluation system, especially of teachers, is to improve teaching and learning and helping people get better at their craft. So, as superintendent, my focus is not how many effective people I have. What I’m interested in doing is helping people get better at their craft. You don’t have to be bad to get better.”

Mains also expressed concern over the evaluation system’s “HEDI” rating system, saying that labeling an educator’s effectiveness within a scale can be stigmatizing and is liable to effect the manner in which they perform their duties.

According to state Education Commissioner John King, the preliminary ratings are not to be taken as concrete figures, but rather provide a general illustration of educator performance statewide.

“These are preliminary numbers, we still have a significant amount of analysis to do,” King said. “But we wanted to provide a sense of the landscape. The results are striking. The more accurate student proficiency rates on the new Common Core assessments did not negatively affect teacher ratings. It’s clear that teachers are rising to the challenge of teaching the Common Core. It’s also clear that it’s time to put aside talk about a moratorium on the use of state assessments in educator evaluations and focus on ensuring all students receive the rigorous and engaging instruction that will help them to prepare for college and careers.”

Under the evaluation law, the rankings were compiled through a composite of performance in three separate areas. Sixty percent of the rankings were based on measures of the educators’ practice through classroom observations, surveys and other measures agreed upon at the local level through collective bargaining. Twenty percent was based on student performance on grades 4-8 state assessments, where applicable, or locally determined student learning objectives. The final 20 percent was based on locally bargained, locally determined objective measures.

“The purpose of the evaluation system is not to create a ‘gotcha’ environment,” said Merryl Tisch, Board of Regents chancellor. “The goal is to improve teaching and learning by targeting professional development to make sure every student receives quality instruction. We want to highlight and reward excellence, ensure that those who are struggling receive the support they need and provide continuous feedback to all educators.”

According to King, more detailed evaluation data will be released by the state Education Department later this year.