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Read the commissioner's letter denying the teacher eval plan: "inadequate"

Here's the complete letter that state Education Commissioner John King sent to Amber Dixon, denying Buffalo's latest agreement on principal and teacher evaluations:

March 13, 2012

Dear Superintendent Dixon:

In recent weeks, the Buffalo City School District and the State Education Department have engaged in ongoing technical assistance regarding Buffalo’s efforts to submit evidence of compliance with the requirements of its 2011-2012 School Improvement Grant (SIG) application related to teacher and leader evaluation and support in its schools. The Department has carefully reviewed your district’s most recent submission and determined that it does not constitute sufficient evidence of compliance with the 2011-2012 SIG requirements related to teacher and leader evaluation and support.

Based on the attendance exclusion provision currently contained in the glossary of your district’s most recent SIG submission, the Department has determined that your submission is inadequate. Even if the Department were to consider an attendance provision to be allowable, any provision that describes a locally-developed control must specifically exclude the State growth subcomponent. Your district’s attendance exclusion provision does not specifically exclude the State growth subcomponent and is therefore impermissible.

Moreover, to the extent your district wishes to construct a submission that takes attendance into account as part of its locally-developed measures subcomponent, you must submit evidence that such a control will be rigorous, transparent and equitable.

The approval of your district’s SIG application was based in part on signed commitments submitted with your application that stated that the districts and the teachers and principals unions would revise, by December 31, 2011, collective bargaining agreements for classroom teachers and building principals assigned to Transformation schools to implement the provisions of Education Law §3012-c, Commissioner's regulations, and the SIG application. Although §3012-c applies to teachers and principals in grades 4-8 English Language Arts and Math in 2011-12, the SIG application – consistent with the federal SIG guidelines requiring a rigorous, transparent and equitable evaluation system that takes into account student growth – further required evaluation in the four §3012-c categories (Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, Ineffective) using student growth as at least 20 percent of the composite evaluation score for all other teachers and principals in 2011-2012.

Pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §§80.43(b), 76.783(b) and 76.401(d)(2)-(7), your district has requested and is scheduled for a hearing to determine if our decision to suspend SIG funds violates any state or federal statute or regulation. Buffalo’s hearing is scheduled for March 22, 2012. We encourage your district to continue to work with its union partners to submit evidence of meeting the terms of your 2011-2012 SIG grant award prior to the hearing date that addresses the issues and concerns described above.


John B. King


- Mary Pasciak

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

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Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

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Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

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Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

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