A Call to Suspend & Amend the NY State Education Transformation Act of 2015

Last Thursday (5/28), I attended a press conference (links to coverage below) sponsored by the NY Suburban Consortium for Public Education. They are urging parental involvement in their campaign to stop the Education Transformation Act of 2015 which is set to go into law on June 30.
I have signed the petition below and I encourage you to do the same (and hope you encourage others to do the same). The petition already has more than 16,000 signatures, but they need more. We need to make sure the state legislature hear us loud and clear and suspend the ETA of 2015. They listened to us when we petitioned them to stop the sharing of our children’s data with a third party and the Consortium is hoping that if enough of us speak up, they will listen on this too. What is the Education Transformation Act of 2015? There are parts of the act that the Consortium and it’s members support, but the majority of the act – the parts that will have the biggest impact on our children are very concerning.
  • Tenure. Tenure will be changed from 3 to 4 years. While on the surface, that looks like it may be a good thing, however the increase in time also comes with new stipulations – that in at least 3 of their 4 “probationary” years they must be rated “effective” or “highly effective” to achieve tenure. While it is important to be highly effective to be a tenured teacher, as someone who is just starting out it isn’t inappropriate for them to be rated “developing” as they are indeed “developing”. This would be similar in most jobs. Someone who is just starting out takes time to develop with the help of their management and peers.
  • APPR (Annual Professional Performance Reviews). Currently, the system includes a variety of areas that comprise the APPR. (achievement measures, growth measures, locally determined measures, more classroom observation, goal setting, PD) If the Education Transformation Act of 2015 is enacted, there will be two things that determine the APPR; Student performance based on growth scores for each teacher and two classroom observations, which includes observations by an “independent” evaluator and by the principal or other district administrator.  If a teacher is rated “highly effective” in classroom observations, but gets an “ineffective” rating on test scores (which some argue are flawed tests to begin with); the best they can hope to be rated is “developing”.
    • What does this mean?
      • Beginning July 1, 2015 school districts may bring charges of incompetence against a teacher who receives two consecutive ratings of “ineffective”. School districts are required to do so with three consecutive “ineffective” ratings. So, if a teacher’s students get test scores over three consecutive years that bring his or her overall rating to “ineffective”, even if the classroom observation component of the APPR is rated effective or higher, they are in jeopardy of losing their job.
      • While this will work to weed out teachers that truly aren’t qualified, it also will impact other teachers who are good at what they do and fall victim to the test scores.
      • Currently our educators look at our children as opportunities. If the changes to the APPR take place under the Education Transformation Act, they will look at our children as risks to their livelihood. It will only perpetuate the “teach to the test” culture.
      • Risk taking, creativity and innovation will diminish.
      • It will further narrow the curriculum
The Consortium is in no way saying that they do not believe that high standards and accountability are important. Rather, that the research is clear and consistent – multiple components of evaluation are needed; not just the results of the state tests and 40 minutes of classroom observations. They contend that the Education Transformation Act of 2015 is not based in research and is not in the best interest of our children. They are insisting that the legislators require that a panel comprised of experts in the field of psychometrics, teacher evaluation and seasoned education leaders be convened to design a research based teacher evaluation system to be implemented in the 2016-2017 school year.
Please take a moment to look at the letter below from the NY Suburban Consortium for Public Education and the Petition and if you agree, add your name in support.
Jacki Geoghegan
PTA co-President

Dear Members,

NY’s state legislature and Governor Cuomo recently passed the Education Transformation Act of 2015 — which threatens the quality of public education in NYS.  The Act’s teacher evaluation plan places massive reliance on state standardized testing so that teachers will have no choice but to focus on tested subjects, like Math and English, and minimize time on Science, History, the Arts and more.  The Act will take the opportunity and innovation out of learning and thereby diminish all aspects of education for NY’s public school children.
The Education Transformation Act must be suspended and a new law allowing for a teacher evaluation plan that is supported by research should be adopted; our children deserve no less.
Please sign the petition at #GetitRightNY and demand the suspension of the Education Transformation Act and the enactment of a new law to establish an evaluation plan developed with expert input and research. Click HERE to access the petition.