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More than a Number Educational Forum

Posted by Dara Eisenstein on April 02, 2012

Job Evaluation Forum

On February 15, 2012, according to Newsday “more than 800 teachers, school principals and others turned out at a Long Island forum to oppose the state's plans to start using student scores on state tests in rating educators' performance. The forum, entitled “More than a Number” organized and led by Dr. Arnold Dodge, and sponsored by Long Island University, was an outgrowth of two formal protests of New York State’s proposed teacher and principal evaluation model. The first protest was by the Metropolitan Council for Educational Administration Programs [MCEAP] (an association of over 20 leadership preparation programs in the greater NYC area). Bank Street College supports the organization’s quarterly meetings, and two faculty members, Terry Orr and Ken Grover, are its president and secretary, respectively. MCEAP produced a formal statement in September, 2011, entitled “Moving toward Systemic Accountability and Capacity Building for Schools and School Leaders.” In this statement, the MCEAP members (along with the NY statewide organization, CADEA [Collegiate Academy for Departments of Educational Administration] which endorsed the statement) recommended five alternative aspects to the proposed evaluation system, that it be:

  • A purpose-driven evaluation system which builds capacity, not a numbers-driven system which narrows a school’s focus, is divisive, and engenders fear.
  • Evaluation methods that recognize the complexities and uncertainties of leading, teaching and learning processes, not formulas that are weighted to student test scores, using flawed formulas, assessments and attribution.
  • A new evaluation system that is phased in over time with appropriate training for all personnel involved, not one that is forced posthaste.
  • An evaluation initiative that enhances the aims of long-term systemic change, not one that displaces meaningful goals with short-term distractions and superficial findings.
  • An evaluation system that is developmental, focused on capacity-building and continuous growth, not a punitive one designed only to (allegedly) sort out ineffective teachers and leaders.

The second and more visible protest was initiated by a group of Long Island principals, who produced “An Open Letter of Concern Regarding New York States APPR Legislation for the Evaluation of Teachers and Principals“ in November 2011, and which has since been signed by more than 1200 principals statewide. The 90 minute video is of the panel presentation by five of the Long Island principals’ group and Terry Orr (Bank Street College), representing MCEAP, in which each panelist explains these core points and encourage forum attendees to advocate for a better evaluation system in communicating with NYS legislators, NYS Regents, and NYS Education Department officials. One month later, at midnight, March 14, 2012, the NYS legislature passed the Governor’s evaluation proposal into law, leaving in place the features both groups had so strongly advocated be changed.

Photo credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas | Saying that it's "bad policy and bad politics," Joseph A. Laria, Superintendent of the Glen Cove School District, took to the microphone to express his opposition to the state's new teacher evaluation plan at C.W Post. (Feb. 15, 2012)