Teacher Evaluation Decision By State Education Commissioner Cuts Though NYC, Union Impasse

Major Decision On NYC Teacher Evaluations

By Janon FisherNEW YORK CITY — The state education commissioner cut through the impasse between the teacher's union and the city Saturday and handed down a teacher evaluation system that will give principals greater power to boot bad instructors in city schools.

"The plan gives principals the tools they need to improve instruction in their schools," said state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. "It will help struggling teachers and principals get better and help good teachers and principals become great."

The new yardstick will also weigh students' state test scores in determining how well a teacher is performing.

"It's time," King said. "The kids have waited too long."

The new system was imposed on the city Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers after the two sides were unable to come up with their own program.

The city education coffers lost $250 million in state aid because the city DOE and the UFT could not resolve their differences.

Under King's plan teachers may receive one of four evaluations and will be rated "highly effective," "effective," "developing" and "ineffective."

"Teachers who remain 'ineffective' can be removed from the classroom," said King in a statement on Saturday. Principals have a large say in determining which of those categories their teachers fall under.

But King added, "New York is not going to fire its way to academic success. The key to the plan is the training, support and professional development that must be put in place to help teachers and principals improve their practice."

Both the city and the teacher's union lauded the new plan.

"It will put students first, further empower our principals, and solidify our accountability measures," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement. "Good teachers will become better ones and ineffective teachers can be removed from the classroom."

King sided with the city by putting this plan in place permanently. The UFT bargained hard to set a two-year expiration date for the evaluation system. It could be amended in the next few years, however, during collective bargaining.

King's plan also gives teachers options to choose how they are evaluated and allows them to demand that their performance be videotaped for appeal purposes.

"The new teacher evaluation system is designed to support, not punish, teachers and to help them develop throughout their careers," UFT president Michael Mulgrew said in a statement.

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