Three recent events have started a shift in educational policy in our state.
On December 10th, the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law. This legislation loosens federal accountability mandates and removes all federal requirements that teacher/principal evaluations must be based on student outcomes. A link to the legislation can be found here.
On that same day, Governor Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force announced its report, a copy of which can be found here. The report focused mainly on testing procedures and standards, but did also recommended that “until the new [Common Core] system is fully phased in (or until the start of the 2019-2020 school year), the results from assessments aligned to the current Common Core Standards, as well as the updated standards, [should be] only be advisory and not be used to evaluate the performance of individual teachers or students.”
In response to the Task Force, on December 14th, the Board of Regents adopted emergency rules (which are subject to a mandatory public comment period). The rules, which can be found here, implement certain limited changes in New York State with respect to the link between assessments and teacher and principal evaluations. These include:
- ensuring that there will be no consequences for teachers or principals related to 3-8 ELA and mathematics state assessments until the start of the 2019-2020 school year;
- ensuring that there will be no consequences for teachers or principals related to growth scores on Regents exams until the start of the 2019-2020 school year (the scores will, however, continue to be calculated for informational purposes);
- temporarily prohibiting the use of results from the 3-8 state assessments for use in evaluating the performance of individual teachers or principals; and
- creating a 4 year transition period during which transition scores and HEDI ratings will replace the scores and HEDI ratings for teachers and principals whose HEDI scores are based, in whole or in part, on State assessments in grades 3-8 ELA or mathematics (including where State-provided growth scores are used) or on State-provided growth scores on Regents examinations.
The new rules specify that, for any district that does not have an approved Plan under the new APPR system for 2015-16, “transition scores and HEDI ratings will be based on the remaining APPR subcomponents other than 3-8 ELA or mathematics State assessments and/or a State-provided growth score on Regents examinations.” And the “overall composite transition score” will take into consideration any back-up SLOs developed by the district in lieu of the State-provided growth score on State assessments as long as such back-up SLOs are not be based on State assessments
For any district that does have an approved Plan under the new APPR system for 2015-16, “transition scores and ratings will be determined using the scores/ratings in the subcomponents of the student performance category that are not based on the grade 3-8 ELA or mathematics State assessments and/or a State-provided growth score on Regents examinations or, in instances where no scores/ratings in the subcomponents of the student performance category can be generated, a back-up SLO shall be developed by the district/BOCES consistent with guidelines prescribed by the Commissioner using assessments approved by the Department that are not State assessments.”
During the transition period only these “transition scores and ratings” will be the operative evaluations used for end of year scoring and other APPR purposes (e.g. tenure determinations and teacher and principal improvement plans).
The emergency rules do not seem to have any effect on APPR for principals or teachers whose student assessment scores are based on criteria other than state assessments (i.e. SLO’s).
In our opinion, the rules do not go nearly far enough. Therefore, our parent statewide organization, ESSAA, along with CAS, will be assembling a campaign to petition legislators and Regents for new legislation decoupling assessment results from all principal and teacher evaluations. This will require a concerted effort on all our parts; it is critical for school leaders to make our voices heard in reshaping educational policy in our state. CAS and ESSAA will be communicating with you regarding next steps and actions required.
Together we can make it happen!