First report cards out for NYS educators

By Matt Porter

October 17, 2013 Updated Oct 17, 2013 at 6:55 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Students have always been subject to regular report cards. But now, first grades for teachers and principals are out as part of New York State's new teacher evaluation system.

The New York Annual Professional Performance Review is designed to evaluate the performance of principals and teachers in all school districts in the state.

Teachers and administrators say this year's results come with an asterisk.

Union-Endicott Superintendent Dr. Suzanne McLeod said her teachers and principals have had to deal with a changing curriculum that was not ready to be tested on.

"First year, new system, all new tests for third through eighth grades last year," McLeod said, "All based on a curriculum that wasn't even entirely released to the field."

McLeod is referring to the new common core curriculum, which has had a difficult transition in some districts, according to teaching advocates.

Although McLeod said the new evaluations will help the district achieve better results in the long term, this year's report cards do not reflect performance accurately.

She said it's nearly impossible for any district to make the top grade.

"With new tests thrown in, where the state average was below 50 percent," McLeod said, "No one can possibly achieve 100."

Final grades for teachers will be one of four tiers: "Highly effective," "Effective," "Developing," or "Ineffective."

Previous teacher evaluations were either "Satisfactory" or "Unsatisfactory."

Teachers have supported the framework of the new evaluations, of which 60 percent are based on peer and principal reviews, and only 20 percent on standardized tests.

Carl Korn, spokesman for the New York State United Teachers, said the process this year was rushed along and teachers are paying the price in their evaluations.

"They want to be measured by a fair, reliable, and accurate baseline," Korn said, "And that just doesn't exist because New York State rushed the implementation of the common core and required students to take tests based on materials teachers had not yet taught."

NYSUT has asked that this year's evaluations not count against teachers.

"The teacher evaluation data is essentially meaningless and useless," Korn said.

The deadline for school districts to turn in the final reports to the state education department is October 18.

Parents can request to see the final grade of any teacher currently teaching their children.

The state education department said it hopes to release some data from the evaluations for the general public through a website by the end of the year.