2012-02-29 / Features

SB 30 Takes Issue With NYS Teacher Evaluation Pact

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) and the state teachers union, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), recently reached an agreement on a new evaluation system for teachers. However, a number of principals throughout the city public school system and Community District Education Council 30 (CDEC 30) have misgivings about the pact.

CDEC 30 has joined the growing ranks of city principals who contend the state requirement for teacher ratings based on student test scores is neither fair nor effective. A petition by www.NewYorkPrincipals.org, including the signatures of 1,300 principals statewide, 175 of them NYC principals, has protested high stakes testing in the teacher evaluation process.

In a resolution passed at its February 16 meeting held at I.S. 145 in Jackson Heights, CDEC 30 said the state’s assessment tests are primarily designed to evaluate student learning and that research has found rating a teacher on the basis of students’ test scores can vary from class to class, year to year, and “even from test to test”.

“There is no real evidence that evaluation systems that incorporate student test scores produce gains in student achievement,” the resolution read. “Overreliance on high stakes tests [has] been demonstrated to narrow curriculum, encourage teaching to the test and even in some cases incentivize cheating.”

The agreement between the state and NYSUT says that up to 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on an annual teacher review of student performance on state standardized tests with half of that portion based on students’ test score growth from year to year. CDEC 30 encouraged the use of teacher mentoring and peer assistance review instead of reliance on high stakes testing.

In a second resolution, CDEC 30 voted unanimously to have all co-located charter schools pay for space and services in the public school buildings they share with regular public schools.

Charter schools receive public funding but are privately managed corporations that are governed by a Board of Trustees or a similar body. Under New York State Education Law, Article 56, Section 2853, Part 4©, “A charter school may contract with a school district or the governing body of a public college or university for the use of a school building and grounds, the operation and maintenance thereof. Any such contract shall provide such services or facilities at cost.”

According to the resolution, NYSED is violating that law because they do not charge co-located charter schools or the private corporations which manage them “for either the use or maintenance of public school space nor for other services paid for by public funds at public school facilities”.

“The New York State Education Department has chosen to ignore this law,” CDEC 30 member Michelle Noris said. “Charter schools in a public school building should pay rent.” In District 30, Voice Charter School is co-located with P.S. 111, the Jacob Blackwell School, at 37-15 13th St. in Long Island City.

In a third resolution, CDEC 30 called on NYSED to stop discriminatory kindergarten admission policies in use by some city charter schools that do not enroll children unless they are five years old by August or September for entry to kindergarten. DOE regulations state a child must be five years old by December 31 and NYSED regulations state, “Any child eligible for admission to a traditional public school is eligible for admission to a charter public school.”

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