Although many area school districts are on track to turn in plans for teacher evaluations soon, some have struggled to negotiate with teachers unions this summer. School districts are recommended to turn in the evaluation plans which will be used to determine whether the educators are competent at their jobs by November at the latest.
According to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomos online evaluation tracker, only a third of all districts in New York have turned in the 80-page document of evaluation plans required by the state Education Department. Districts that do not have a plan approved by January run the risk of not receiving extra funding scheduled in April, which means school taxes could increase.
I think the big issue is that everyone wants to be sure this is a fair situation, said Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services Superintendent Jack J. Boak Jr. I can tell you that they are all working feverishly on it.
Fair could mean different things to different districts, teachers and administrative unions as they finagle wording, course language and standards on which teachers would be comfortable being graded.
The Indian River Central School District still has not chosen a method for gauging teachers and principals.
At this point, we have not met since late May, said Superintendent James Kettrick.
Mr. Kettrick said that the union will meet Tuesday afternoon, but that he does not know whether a grading method will be decided upon.
It is tough to get teachers, administrators and the Board of Education to meet at the same time during summer vacation, but Mr. Kettrick said it would be wise to turn in the evaluation by October in case the state wants a resubmittal or more feedback. It also can take a few months for the state to approve the evaluation plans.
I think a lot of schools want feedback from the state, Mr. Kettrick said.
During the Watertown City School Districts Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Terry N. Fralick announced the district and teachers union recently came up with an agreement on a grading method. Education Association President Dianne H. Loonan said there have been no problems in negotiations with the school district.
Im always concerned about meeting a deadline, but I know were going to meet it, she said. I know we are working very hard with the school district.
Many of the regions superintendents attended a weeklong New York State United Teachers conference on evaluations that was hosted by Copenhagen Central School District at the beginning of the month.
Districts can choose one of 10 teacher grading methods, according to http://engageny.org. Administrative unions can chose from among six methods to grade a principal.
Lowville Academy and Central School District already has chosen a grading method and is nearly done with its hefty evaluation plan.
Were closing in on it, said Superintendent Kenneth J. McAuliffe. Were probably 95 percent there.
He said the district has been working on the evaluation form for a year and plans for the Board of Education to approve it at the districts September meeting.
Were probably going to finish the principals concept in August, Mr. McAuliffe said. We should have it in, but not fully signed off, by Sept. 11.
Carthage Central School District has met with its teachers union at least four times throughout the summer. Superintendent Peter J. Turner said the percentage of weight of the students test performance on the teachers evaluation is being negotiated.
Like other superintendents, Mr. McAuliffe found the process to be tough because it involves training educators to understand student standard learning objectives for the federal Race to the Top program. Every classroom and all course objectives have to be included in the evaluation form. In his case, it involved training 120 teachers for more than 10 hours to understand the standards they will be implementing in September.
Its time-consuming getting to the point where teachers are comfortable writing an SLO, he said.
On top on that is the sheer magnitude of the 80-page application.
Its quite an ambitious project, Mr. McAuliffe said. Its a lot to be expected; then you have to get everyone to agree.
Gov. Cuomos teacher evaluation tracker can be found at http://www.governor.ny.gov/BuildingaNewNY/TeacherEvaluationTracker.