Six top educators of the Glen Cove School District joined hundreds of Long Island public school principals in challenging the state Education Department and criticizing new standards for evaluating teachers.
The new rules went into effect in September as New York State worked to win federal money under the Race to the Top program, which the White House said is designed to promote "innovation, reform, and excellence in America’s public schools."
Teachers and principals are evaluated, in part, on student performance on standardized tests.
“As building principals, we applaud efforts aimed towards excellence for all of our students. We cannot, however, stand by while untested practices are put in place without any meaningful discussion or proven research,” they say on a new Web site.
Glen Cove school principals who signed the letter included Rosemarie Sekelsky, , Nomi Rosen, , Joseph Hinton, , Francine Santoro, , Michael Israel, , and Anael Alston, .
They were joined by many principals from surrounding districts, including Great Neck and Locust Valley.
Glen Cove Superintendent Dr. Joseph Laria was the first to inform district principals about the letter, and encouraged them to “sign on and be part of the process.”
“I do believe it is flawed legislation; it’s regressive, and unenforceable,” he said. “Most of the provisions to evaluate teachers has to be agreed upon through the collective bargaining process, which…is problematic. It usurps the management prerogatives to properly evaluate.”
The encourages accountability, and performance evaluation, according to Laria. However, he believes the New York State Education Department is moving too quickly on this new legislation.
“As a superintendent for 33 years, an educator 47 years, I’ve never seen anything more absurd than this APPR [process].”
Teachers and principals receive a rating of 0-100 with 20 to 40 percent of their score coming from their students’ test performance.
The Web site, which includes a copy of an open letter, lists several objections to the system, arguing that tax dollars are being diverted from schools to testing companies, trainers and outside vendors; that the emphasis on evaluations will damage children as schools put too much focus on test results, and that educational experts say there is no evidence that such a system improves students’ education.
“We, principals of Long Island schools, conclude that the proposed APPR process is an unproven system that is wasteful of increasingly limited resources. More importantly, it will prove to be deeply demoralizing to educators and harmful to the children in our care,” the website says.
The letter was written by Dr. Sean Feeney, principal of The Wheatley School in East Williston and president of the Nassau County High School Principals Association, and Carol Corbett Burris of South Side High School in Rockville Centre. In July, Burris sent a memo to U. S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in July, outlining her objections to poor evaluation systems.
The state Board of Regents approved the evaluation system in May.
“These evaluations will play a significant role in a wide array of employment decisions, including promotion, retention, tenure determinations, termination, and supplemental compensation, and will be a significant factor in teacher and principal professional development,” the state Education Department said at the time.
Educators are rated on this basis, the department said.
- 20 percent -- student growth on state assessments or a comparable measure of student achievement growth (increases to 25% upon implementation of a value-added growth model);
- 20 percent -- locally-selected measures of student achievement that are determined to be rigorous and comparable across classrooms (decreases to 15 percent upon implementation of a value-added growth model); and
- 60 percent -- other measures of teacher/principal effectiveness.