There are several questionable elements to the new teacher evaluation system just imposed on New York City schools by state education Commissioner John King, but the one that jumps out for sheer nitwittedness is this: Students starting in third grade will now have a say in the official assessment of their teachers.

Yes, what third- (and fourth and fifth and sixth etc.) graders think about their teachers will actually matter in a teacher’s evaluation, 5 percent worth. The rest of the evaluation will be based on student standardized test scores — a method of assessing teachers that psychometricians say is invalid — and by observations of teachers, some of them by videotape, a practice that can be useful in helping teachers see how they are doing but, for a number of reasons, (which you can see here) shouldn’t be mixed with evaluation. (See chart below for percentages of evaluation factors).

All in all, King’s evaluation system leaves an enormous amount to be desired — if you are interested in a teacher evaluation system with elements that are actually known to be effective.

There is a big debate about the use of student surveys in teacher evaluation even as a  number of districts and states in recent years have added them. Student feedback can certainly be valuable and should be solicited, but the notion that the opinion of young kids should have any weight in how a teacher is evaluated is, well, remarkable, and not in a good way.

To be fair, King came up with the system because the New York City Department of Education and the New York City teachers union could not agree on terms for a new educator evaluation plan and state law required that they have one.

The one that King came up with uses methods that have become popular in recent years among school reformers who believe student standardized test scores should be used to hold accountable all teachers (and students and schools and principals and districts and states and schools of education). Experts keep saying that the method is unfair and unreliable — too often giving high scores to ineffective teachers and low scores to effective ones — but that hasn’t stopped the growth of these evaluation systems, known as “value-added methods.”

Here are details about King’s system, taken from the Web site of the New York State Department of Education:

Highlights of Commissioner King’s Plan for NYC Teachers:
State Growth20%Note: Could increase to 25% if the Board of Regents approves a change to a value added model. State-provided growth scores in grades 4-8Student Learning Objectives (SLOs)
  • For teachers in core subjects with state assessments, state assessments must be used
  • For teachers in core subjects without state assessments, NYC performance assessments reflective of the Common Core Standards must be used
  • For all other teachers, menu determined by NYSED
  • Student performance targets for SLOs approved by principals with input from teachers
Locally Selected Measures20%Note: Could decrease to 15% if the Board of Regents approves a change to a value added model. NYSED Menu of Options
  • School-based measures of student learning committee (4 members selected by principal, 4 members selected by UFT) to allow for both teacher and administrator input
  • Committee recommends measures to principal from menu determined by NYSED
  • Principal may reject recommendation and apply default school-wide measure
Other Measures: Observation Process60% for K-2 (and 3-12 Teachers in 2013-14)55% for 3-12 Teachers in 2014-15 and beyond Danielson (2013): 22 components must be observed annually via observations and teacher artifactsTeachers will have a choice between two options and indicate which option they have chosen at their initial planning conference in the beginning of the school year:
  • Option 1: (a) min. of 1 formal; (b) min. of 3 informal (at least 1 unannounced)
  • Option 2: min. of 6 informal (at least 1 unannounced)

Teacher may authorize observation by video

Other Measures: Surveys5% for 3-12 Teachers in 2014-15 and beyond Tripod Student Surveys in Grades 3-12: City-wide pilot in 2013-14, full implementation in 2014-15 and beyond
AppealsGoverned by Education Law Section 3012-c(5-a) Chancellor’s Appeals:
  • Ineffective only
  • 4 hour maximum per session
  • Year-round (including summer months)

Panel Appeals (harassment or reasons not related to job performance): Limited to 13% of teachers rated ineffective (as determined by UFT)

Streamlined Process to Resolve APPR Compliance Issues 15 expedited compliance issue resolution hearing days
  • Exclusive mechanism for resolving APPR procedural compliance issues
  • Shall not be used by an individual teacher to challenge that teacher’s annual professional performance review
Highlights of Commissioner King’s Plan for NYC Principals Imposed With Agreement of NYCDOE and the CSA:
State Growth20%Note: Could increase to 25% if the Board of Regents approves a change to a value added model. State-provided growth scores in schools with grades 4-8 State-provided growth scores in high schools

For small number of principals without state-provided growth scores: Student Learning Objectives (SLOs)

  • State assessments (where applicable)
  • All others: NYCDOE and CSA collaborative decision-making process with 8/1 deadline; if no decision by 8/1, NYC performance assessments reflective of the Common Core Standards
Locally Selected Measures20%Note: Could decrease to 15% if the Board of Regents approves a change to a value added model. Selected metrics from the NYC Progress Reports
Rubric for “Other Measures”60%
  • NYC Quality Review Rubric (2012-13)
  • Two supervisory visits by superintendent or designee (at least 1 unannounced)
  • Ineffective only
  • Hearing officer selected from a panel of experienced educators jointly appointed by NYCDOE and the CSA
  • Hearing officer makes recommendation to Chancellor who makes final decision

Attachment A

Requirements of Education Law Section 3012-c (as amended in 2012)
Annual evaluations with regular feedback
  • Required for all teachers and principals
Clear rigorous expectations
  • NY State Teaching Standards
  • Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards for principals
Multiple measures
  • 40% Student Performance (growth on state tests and/or other locally-selected measures)
  • 60% Other (observations, school visits, surveys, etc.):
    • A majority (at least 31 percent) of the 60 percent must be based on classroom observations by a principal or trained administrator.
    • There must be multiple observations and at least one observation must be unannounced.
Multiple Rating Levels
  • Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, Ineffective
  • Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall. Teachers who are developing or ineffective will get assistance and support to improve performance. Teachers who remain ineffective can be removed from classrooms.
Regular Feedback
  • Frequent, ongoing and linked to development opportunities
  • Factors into employment decisions, supplemental compensation
  • Appeals must be timely and expeditious and districts may terminate probationary teachers/principals or grant or deny tenure while an appeal is pending.
  • All evaluation plans are subject to review and approval by the Commissioner to ensure rigor, quality and consistency with standards.

Follow the Commissioner on Twitter: @JohnKingNYSED