Local districts OK teacher evaluation plans
CAPITAL REGION All of the school districts in the Capital Region have now submitted their teacher and principal evaluation plans to the state Education Department.
The districts needed to submit the plans to comply with state law setting a deadline of Jan. 17. Districts that do not have a state-approved plan in place by that date risk not receiving a planned increase in aid.
A total of 533 school district teacher and principal plans have been approved statewide.
Scotia-Glenville submitted its plan Friday. Spokesman Robert Hanlon said the process was very time-consuming. “I think it was making sure the T’s were crossed and the I’s were dotted and everybody was happy with what inevitably will be an imperfect process,” he said. “We’ve done evaluations for years and years, but this is a more structured process.”
As part of its application to receive $700 million in federal Race to the Top funding, New York implemented a new teacher evaluation system more formally known as the Annual Professional Performance Review. Under the law, 20 percent of a teacher’s score is based on student standardized test scores, 20 percent on locally developed tests and 60 percent on traditional evaluation methods such as observation.
School districts have to negotiate the specific details with their teacher and administrator unions. Hanlon said the committee drafting the evaluations wrapped up its work before Thanksgiving, but the unions had to approve and they were hammering out some of the final details.
“Unions have specific interests. They want to protect their members and we respect that,” he said. One of the sticking points was the appeals process for teachers dissatisfied with their evaluations. The Scotia-Glenville teachers signed off on the plan first and then the administrators.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Superintendent Patrick McGrath said the district started the process back in September, but technical details held up submission of the plan. The district has been working with state officials after it originally submitted its plan in mid-November. “It was more details — labeling things the right way, filling out the form the right way, rather than it was substantive,” he said.
Complicating matters was the fact that the district was also trying to negotiate a new teachers contract, he said. And there were other matters that diverted school officials’ attention, including responding to parent concerns about school safety following the Sandy Hook shootings.
McGrath said he thinks the state Education Department can approve it by the deadline because officials have already read significant portions of the document during the draft stages.
Other districts that have since submitted plans in the last two weeks are: Cobleskill-Richmondville, Duanesburg, Fonda-Fultonville, Galway, Gilboa-Conesville, Middleburgh, Niskayuna, Oppenheim-Ephratah, Schoharie, Sharon Springs and Shenendehowa. Of these districts, only the plans for Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs and Gilboa-Conesville have been approved.
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said in a news release that his department is expediting review of new or resubmitted plans. “We’ll move as fast as we can, but we will not sacrifice the quality of the review,” he said.
Reviewing plans typically takes four to six weeks, according to state education officials.
Only nine school districts had not submitted any plans for review as of Tuesday: Fallsburg, Hamburg, Harrison, Montauk, New York City, Onteora, Pine Plains, Remsen and Yonkers.