Only one out of every hundred public school teachers in New York was rated ineffective under a new state evaluation system implemented during the last school year, according to data released Tuesday by the state Education Department.
While preliminary state numbers showed most teachers got passing marks, the results did little to calm controversy over the use of tougher new state tests to measure how teachers do in the classroom.
“Certainly the fears that the evaluation system was a ‘gotcha system’ or that the change in state assessments was going to result in huge numbers of teachers in the ineffective category, obviously those fears were unfounded,” State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said.
District-by-district results will not be released until late fall or early winter.
Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore was among union leaders who questioned the worth of teacher evaluations based, in part, on new standardized tests. He had not seen results for Buffalo Public Schools, but said he had heard instances of teachers who received nearly perfect scores from administrators during classroom observation but were rated ineffective because of student test results.
“These test scores really have no correlation between how students are learning and how teachers are teaching,” Rumore said.
Mandated by law in 2012, the evaluations scored teachers on a 100-point system, with student learning outcomes accounting for 40 points. Teachers’ scores placed them in four categories: highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective.
Of the 126,849 teachers evaluated across the state, 49.7 percent were found to be highly effective, with 41.8 percent deemed effective.
Of the rest, 4.4 percent were found to be developing and 1 percent ineffective.
The results do not include teachers in New York City.
“These are preliminary data,” King said. “But we wanted to make sure to give folks a sense of the landscape.”
Teachers unions called it unfair for teachers to be evaluated under the new system at a time when the new Common Core curriculum standards are just being introduced. Union leaders have called for schools to hold off on using the evaluations in any personnel decisions until Common Core has been fully implemented.
King said he hopes the evaluation data will allow “an opportunity to move past moratorium discussion” and to focus “on the work of ensuring the success of the Common Core, classroom by classroom.”
But the president of New York State United Teachers said the results did not change the union’s call for a three-year moratorium on the use of state assessments in “high-stakes decisions affecting individual teachers or students.”
“Contrary to the commissioner’s statement, the state must listen to parents’ and teachers’ call for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences to allow the time to get it right with Common Core implementation and to restore public confidence in New York’s public education system,” Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers, said Tuesday in a written statement.
Teachers found to be developing and ineffective are to be provided with an improvement plan to address their weaknesses. A teacher found to be ineffective two years in a row can be subject to termination proceedings.
The state law also requires schools to evaluate principals. Of 3,207 principals evaluated across the state, 26 percent were considered highly effective; 60.9 percent effective; 7.5 percent developing; and 2.1 percent ineffective.
Buffalo school administrators are analyzing the teacher evaluation data and expect to release results soon, said district spokeswoman Elena Cala.