Saturday, March 7, 2015

Teacher Evaluations- and I am not talking testing

I worked as a bank teller and head teller when I went to school full time and worked full time. My evaluation consisted of sitting down with a manager or assistant manager and a print out of my error sheet. There was a paper evaluation sheet, about a page and a half long with check lists. We would talk together and then the rubric would be filled out. I think it was a 3 point rubric- fair, good, exceptional. Raises there, like in education, were based on longevity.
My husband works in the private sector. He sits down with the boss and they talk and sometimes, if the business is doing well, he gets a raise; and sometimes he is told that they wish they could give a raise. His evaluation form is about a page.

Until a couple of years ago, most of my teacher evaluation forms were about a page to 2 pages. It didn't matter if I were in public school or private school or BOCES, the form was pretty similar. The administration may or may not have observed me and may or may not have filled out an observation form on me. To digress for a moment, my favorite observation for stated that I didn't make my room inviting for students because there were no posters on the wall. Nothing about my teaching. I reminded the administrator that the afternoon before the observation she had suspended a student who had vandalized the room, including breaking 2 desks and tearing the posters off the wall. She said that I should have come in the next day with new posters. I told her that the broken desks were still in the room and she should have had custodians remove them. (She is now under investigation at a district for embezzlement and falsifying documents, just saying.)

Back to the topic at hand, evaluations. The game changed with Race To The Top (RTTT) when states had to compete for federal funding (hah! no equitable funding there either) and part of the competition was having the most rigorous (ugh-buzzword) teacher evaluation system. Despite the fact that collective bargaining is a right under the NYS Constitution, and despite the fact that many school districts, like mine, were still under contract with evaluation forms, Governor Cuomo stated that districts that did not redo their evaluations would lose money. Part of a teacher's evaluation would be measured by student growth, another by student achievement and the other 60% by a rigorous evaluation rubric. Districts scrambled to write new evaluation systems.

NYSUT, the teachers' union, stepped up and wrote a rubric by which teachers could be evaluated. NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT approved the rubric. You can find it here NYSUT 2012 Teacher Practice Rubric  I am evaluated by that rubric, as are many, many others. IT IS 42 PAGES LONG and has SEVEN STANDARDS not all of which can be seen in  an observation or lesson plan. That means that I have to bring to my conference with my administrator proof of my worthiness to teach. Andrew Cuomo praised the new teacher evaluation system in May 2011. HE PRAISED IT. Now, he condemns it because it didn't do what he wanted it to do.

And now I need to state this out loud. All you private sector people who want teachers to be evaluated 'just like everyone else'-- guess what, that would be a step down for us.

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