Dear Commons Community,
New York State education commissioner, John King, Jr., broke a long and acrimonious impasse on Saturday by imposing a new evaluation system that would rate New York City teachers in part on their students’ test scores and streamline the disciplinary process.
The new system, announced after three hectic days of meetings, testimony and arbitration that involved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration and the teachers’ union, finally brought New York City into compliance with state law — the last district in the state to do so.
“It’s time. The students have waited too long,” said the commissioner, adding that the new plan would “help improve teaching and learning and give New York City students a much better opportunity to graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and their careers.”
In something of a compromise, Mr. King’s plan would make New York City — with more than 1.1 million public school students, 75,000 teachers and 1,700 schools — the only district in the state that would leave a significant part of the implementation of the evaluations up to individual schools, with teachers perhaps having the chance to weigh in with administrators on how they are rated.
“There is the opportunity for differentiation on the school level,” Mr. King said.
Under the new system, 20 to 25 percent of each teacher’s rating score would be determined by state-approved measures of students’ growth, another 15 to 20 percent by measures established by the schools, and 55 to 60 percent would be based on in-class observations or performance assessed by video recording.
“Both Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Saturday night that they were largely pleased with Mr. King’s plan, which also included a new evaluation system for principals.
In a statement, Mr. Bloomberg praised the commissioner for rejecting a so-called sunset provision that would have let the evaluation system expire after a few years. Mr. King said the system could be changed, but through collective bargaining….
In his statement, Mr. Mulgrew said, “New York City teachers will now have additional protections and opportunities to play a larger role in the development of the measures used to rate them.”
Yet he expressed skepticism that it would be implemented fully by the city. “The tough part is trying to implement anything with this Department of Education, and that’s our greatest concern,” Mr. Mulgrew said in a telephone interview.
Melissa DeRosa, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo, said in a statement that the new system “will create real accountability in the classroom.” She added: “The mayor didn’t win and the union didn’t win. Today, the students won. Finally.”
I might add that any education policy in New York City that allows for some differentiation is good. There have been too many one-size fits all approaches in the past dozen or so years.