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What, exactly, are the teachers voting on?

Teachers in every public school in Buffalo today are voting on an agreement with the district that defines teacher evaluations in 2011-12 for teachers in six low-performing schools.

Here are some of the highlights:

- A sticking point in earlier versions of the agreement was a clause in the annual professional performance review's glossary saying that the progress of students absent more than 20 percent of the year would not count toward a teacher's evaluation. State Education Department officials told district administrators they would not approve an agreement that contained such a clause -- and the union's Council of Delegates overwhelmingly voted to keep that clause in.

The proposed agreement comes with a one-page memorandum of understanding that stipulates that clause would remain in the APPR -- but "would be held in abeyance for the 2011-12 school year. However, it remains in effect in the APPR for the 2012-13 school year and all future years until modified in writing by the Buffalo Teachers Federation and district."

- For teachers in fourth to eighth grade who teach math and/or ELA, 20 points of their evaluation would be based on the state's growth measure; 20 points would be based on the locally determined growth measure; and 60 points would be based on a classroom observation.

The state is supposed to establish the growth model for its 20 points.

The local 20 points would be based on schoolwide student growth on the state's fourth- to eighth-grade English and math assessments.

The 60 points would be based on "a minimum of one observation by a Buffalo trained and certified administrator."

- For all other elementary and middle school teachers (such as art teachers, first-grade teachers, etc.), 20 points of their evaluation would be based on a locally selected state growth measure; and 80 points would be based on one of three options.

The 20 points would be based on schoolwide student growth on the state's fourth- to eighth-grade English and math assessments.

For the 80 points, teachers have three options. In each option, some portion consists of a formal classroom observation, which the teacher is notified about ahead of time. The options are:

a. 40 points, classroom observation; 20 points, portfolio demonstrating "progress of the teacher's knowledge and skills"; and 20 points, self-review and self-directed growth plan.

b. 60 points, classroom observation; 20 points, portfolio or self-review and self-directed growth plan.

c. 80 points, classroom observation.

- For high school teachers, 20 points of their evaluation would be based on a locally selected state growth measure; and 80 points would be based on one of three options (see above).

The 20 points would be based on the percentage increase in students in the school passing the five core Regents exams (worth up to 5 points), as well as the percentage increase in students receiving five credits toward graduation (worth up to 15 points).

For a teacher to receive the full 20 points, the school would need to see an increase of greater than 3 percent in students getting five course credits toward graduation, and an increase of greater than 3 percent in students passing the five core Regents exams.

But -- if a school's combined percentage of students missing 10 to 20 percent of the year, plus percentage of students missing more than 20 percent of the year, is greater than the district's combined percentage -- then the required percentage increase on those two measures would be decreased by a certain amount.

The math on this gets a little complicated. Without getting too deeply into the nitty gritty, the target increases for students passing the five exams and for students earning the five credits would be adjusted downward in proportion to how much more severe the school's attendance problem is, in comparison to the district's overall attendance problem.

- Out of 100 possible points, teachers receiving:

a. 91 to 100 points would be rated highly effective

b. 75 to 90 points would be rated effective

c. 65 to 74 points would be rated developing

d. 0 to 64 points would be rated ineffective.

Teachers rated developing or ineffective would be placed on a teacher improvement plan.

- Teachers would have up to 60 days to appeal their evaluation.

- Mary Pasciak

facebook.com/mary.pasciak     twitter.com/SchoolZoneBlog    mpasciak@buffnews.com

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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.

@denisejewellgee | djgee@buffnews.com


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.

@TiffanyLankes | tlankes@buffnews.com


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.

@BNschoolzone | stan@buffnews.com


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.

@DeidreWilliamsB | dswilliams@buffnews.com

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