The state education commissioner and the governor have both put teacher evaluations front and center in their plans for reforming education in New York. Many millions of dollars for the Buffalo Public Schools ride on the district's ability to put together an evaluation system the state will approve.
There are plenty of important elements on both sides of the debate on teacher evaluations, and I hope to be able to touch on as many of them as possible in the coming days.
Today, I want to start off by addressing some of the anger that some teachers have expressed regarding the Buffalo News requesting public information about teacher evaluations.
What prompted the News to request the information?
Well, a few months ago, a teacher at one of the low-performing high schools contacted me with some concerns about the teacher evaluations in 2010-11. The teachers at the PLA schools, he had heard, were getting shafted on their evaluations. He wanted to know: was that true?
I had no idea.
But it seemed like a fair question to investigate.
So I did what seemed to make sense and asked the district for copies of all the teacher evaluations. If there were some inequity in how teachers were getting evaluated, that would be the way to prove or disprove it.
(I checked with Bob Freeman over at the state's Committee on Open Government, and he said there's no doubt that a teacher's overall rating is a matter of public record. But more on that another day.)
What did I find out from the district?
In most schools, all teachers were deemed "adequate." (On the existing evaluations, there are only two final determinations: "adequate" or "not adequate.") It's the principals, remember, who are doing the evaluations, which, in 2010-11, were based solely on classroom observations.
The school with the highest percentage of teachers rated inadequate was Hamlin Park, where one out of 10 teachers were rated inadequate. At Drew Science Magnet, 8 percent of teachers were rated inadequate. Early Childhood Center 17 and MLK each had 7 percent of teachers rated inadequate.
Most of the PLA (persistently lowest achieving) schools had a rather low percentage of teachers rated inadequate -- if any teachers at all were.
At the PLA high schools, for instance: Bennett and Burgard had 3 percent rated inadequate; Lafayette, East and South Park had none.
I'll be delving into this issue more in the coming days.
In the meantime, here's the raw info for you to digest a bit (ratings are from 2010-11):
|School||School name||"Adequate" teachers||"Not adequate" teachers||Pct inadequate|
|17||Early Childhd Ctr 17||41||3||7%|
|19||Native Am Magnet||52||0%|
|31||Harriett Ross Tubman||49||0%|
|33||Bilingual Center 33||56||0%|
|42||Occupational Trng Ctr||26||0%|
|45||Intl School 45||106||1||1%|
|53||Community Sch 53||52||0%|
|59||Drew Science Magnet||36||3||8%|
|61||Early Childhd Ctr 61||35||1||3%|
|66||North Park Middle||38||1||3%|
|82||Early Childhd Ctr 82||26||0%|
|84||Erie Co Health Ctr||21||1||5%|
|90||Drew ECC 90||36||2||5%|
|131||Academy, grades 7-8||9||0%|
|131||Academy, Grades 9-12||16||0%|
- Mary Pasciak