The Evolution of Teacher Evaluation in NY State through the APPR system

Featured Image -- 198New York State proposed and adopted the Annual Personnel Performance Review (APPR) in 2000 to evaluate any teacher in New York school districts, including the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), who provides instruction or pupil personnel services. Changes were made to the law in 2010 to include all teachers in the evaluation process and to exclude teaching assistants, teacher aides, or titles involving pupil services (http://www.nysut.org/members/member-guide/appr).

The purpose of the changes to teacher evaluation (including the principal(s)) in primary and secondary schools is aimed to empower teachers to improve their own teaching effectiveness. In turn, use of these engaging, effective practices will increase student achievement. Although the stated intention, the new measures were poorly received. Administrators and teachers were confused by quick rollout along with the implementation of another major shift in state education (Common Core).

The stakeholders involved in the creation and adoption of APPR intended to make a standardized and objective method to evaluate teacher effectiveness. The NY State Department of Education intends to place an effective teacher in every classroom in every public school in New York.

The APPR determines a teacher’s effectiveness by calculating different measures related to their profession: local growth measures, student growth, and other measures (such as teacher observations by a principal or other identified administrator/leader). The calculation of a composite score is delineated by the following percentages:

  • 20% – local growth measures
  • 20% – student growth
  • 60% – ‘other measures’

School districts have some latitude in determining the measures of teacher and student growth. Many schools use a local final exam or state Regents exam to determine the local growth. Student growth can be measured by pre- and post-test meta-data or by comparing student growth across different cohorts over time.

Other measures for determining a teacher’s APPR composite score usually include classroom observations to gain evidence regarding district initiatives. Administrators especially look for evidence of student engagement, teacher planning, alignment to curriculum, and degree of student assessment toward reaching content understanding. Districts can negotiate other particulars of this APPR component before submitting to New York State Department of Education for approval.

The governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, has drawn ire from teachers and teacher unions across the state for his approach to APPR. According to Cuomo, the last three years of teacher performance data shows too many ineffective teachers have been earning effective teaching scores (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/21/nyregion/cuomos-education-agenda-sets-battle-lines-with-teachers-unions.html?_r=1).

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In January 2015, Cuomo tried to enact even more changes to the APPR that were tied to school district funding, but was forced to retreat from this position after excessive push-back from administrators, teachers, and parents (http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/01/8560642/cuomo-dangles-school-aid-education-reforms).

In my next blog post, look for a review of German teacher evaluation through a historical lens dating back to 1872.

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One response to “The Evolution of Teacher Evaluation in NY State through the APPR system

  1. It would seem that the heart of evaluations should be what is best for children. There is so much emphasis on what the teacher can do rather than what can be
    done for students who academically struggle. The questions that should be asked and answered are: What type of curriculum is best suited for students who begin school multiple years behind their peers? What other factors should be addressed to better help these students? In my previous blog I stated the evaluation system changes with the electoral vote. Research states it takes five years+ to see growth.
    APPR has changed multiple times because it was rolled out much too quickly – as a one size fits all approach that works differently based on the variables that exist at the school and the economics and mindsets of staff and students. APPR will only work if it is implemented with fidelity and continuity and with the input of the educators that teach the students. As many changes as the educational system has implemented one of the reasons it has not worked is do to the changing population of students that are subjected to it. Therefore, maybe the focus should be on best practice rather than individual measures of tests.

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