Three years ago, New York State enacted a law to overhaul the way teachers and principals are evaluated.
I was working for the New York State Senate when the new law was enacted, and I remember well the months of back and forth on teacher evaluation, funding of the statewide data system and other reforms advanced by Chancellor Tisch, then Commissioner Steiner, and current Commissioner King. After countless meetings and negotiations, a number of reform initiatives were enacted, the centerpiece being the teacher and principal evaluation law. But the work was just beginning.
This law puts forth a framework for what teacher and leader evaluation should look like in our state: 40 percent of the new evaluations would be based on student performance and the other 60 percent on other factors, including observations. 80 percent of the total evaluations would be subject in some degree to local decisionmaking through the collective bargaining process. Teachers would now be assigned one of four rankings instead of just two.
Three years and several changes to the law later, only one district didn’t have a plan in place: New York City. But that changed on Saturday night, when Commissioner King, using new powers afforded him in the 2013 budget, released the final plan for New York City teachers. This resolution gives teachers a significant role in setting the number and format of their observations, includes a voice for students through student surveys and ensures that principals have real authority to implement the details of the system in their building. The plan put forth by Commissioner King also ensures that administrative burdens are kept to a minimum while protecting the due process rights of NYC DOE employees.
The hard work of implementation lies ahead, but NYC now has a strong, balanced and innovative plan in place, which is the first step in smart implementation.