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Local Educators Oppose Evaluation System

All five Wantagh building principals and one in Seaford sign open later saying that new process that began in September is flawed.

Hundreds of Long Island public school principals including six in Wantagh and  Seaford are challenging the state Education Department and criticizing new standards for evaluating educators.

The new rules went into effect in September as New York State worked to win federal money under the Race to the Top program, which the White House said is designed to promote  "innovation, reform, and excellence in America’s public schools."

Teachers and principals are evaluated, in part, on student performance on standardized tests. In an open letter regarding New York State's APPR legislation, all five building principals in the Wantagh School District and Seaford Middle School Principal Daniel Smith were part of 368 principals across Long Island to address the concerns over the new rules.

 “As building principals, we applaud efforts aimed towards excellence for all of our students. We cannot, however, stand by while untested practices are put in place without any meaningful discussion or proven research,” they say on a new website.

“At first glance, using test scores might seem like a reasonable approach to accountability. As designed, however, these regulations carry unintended negative consequences for our schools and students that simply cannot be ignored,” the principals say.

Teachers and principals receive a rating of 0-100 with 20 to 40 percent of their score coming from their students’ test performance.

“I applaud all those principals for taking a stand,” said Tom Vereline, president of Wantagh United Teachers. “Most districts feel as if they are being rushed into the new evaluation system.”

Vereline emphasized that “the vast majority of educators support some sort of new system” but the implementation of it needs to be reviewed more before proceeding.

“We realize that given the high property taxes Long Islanders pay, they want to know their children are being taught by qualified educators,” said Vereline. “However, there are just too many uncertainties in the new system and if we don’t proceed carefully, implementation of it may do more harm than good.”

The website, which includes a copy of an open letter, lists several objections to the system, arguing that tax dollars are being diverted from schools to testing companies, trainers and outside vendors; that the emphasis on evaluations will damage children as schools put too much focus on test results, and that educational experts say there is no evidence that such a system improves students’ education.

“We, principals of Long Island schools, conclude that the proposed APPR process is an unproven system that is wasteful of increasingly limited resources. More importantly, it will prove to be deeply demoralizing to educators and harmful to the children in our care,” the website says.

The letter was written by Dr. Sean Feeney, principal of The Wheatley School in East Williston and president of the Nassau County High School Principals Association, and Carol Corbett Burris of South Side High School in Rockville Centre. In July, Burris sent a memo to U. S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in July, outlining her objections to poor evaluation systems.

The state Board of Regents approved the evaluation system in May. “These evaluations will play a significant role in a wide array of employment decisions, including promotion, retention, tenure determinations, termination, and supplemental compensation, and will be a significant factor in teacher and principal professional development,” the state Education Department said at the time.

Educators are rated on this basis, the department said.

  • 20% -- student growth on state assessments or a comparable measure of student achievement growth (increases to 25% upon implementation of a value-added growth model);
  • 20% -- locally-selected measures of student achievement that are determined to be rigorous and comparable across classrooms (decreases to 15% upon implementation of a value-added growth model); and
  • 60% -- other measures of teacher/principal effectiveness.
Chris Wendt November 18, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Consider Wayne's point of view: "...when companies move jobs overseas it's game over. We might think we have a good educational system, but that's not unique in this world anymore and when companies can find comparable and much cheaper skilled labor elsewhere, where do you think they're going to locate jobs? Unless our educational system becomes demonstrably superior I think our kids really will be at a competitive disadvantage - whether they come from Seaford, Wantagh or Hempstead." Perspective: companies move jobs overseas to take advantage of lower labor costs. American (as well as other countries') engineers design and refine manufacturing processes, replication, and packaging systems for products to be idiot proof, enabling US manufacturers to move jobs offshore for lower labor costs and reduced skill levels. With the exception maybe of software developers and digital systems analysis, there are not huge cadres of highly skilled yound people staffing the sweat shops and child- and prison-labor mills of China and India. They are largely peasants-turned-production-workers performing dumbed-down, mindless, repetitive tasks for a pittance and a crappy gray uniform with a little matching peaked cap. Education in Wantagh and Seaford is superior in many way to many places. Our kids get a better than fair shake at good jobs. But good jobs get more scarce every day. They will never disappear, however, just harder to get. A crisis looms that education can't fix.
Lorraine DeVita November 18, 2011 at 09:10 PM
Jobs moving overseas are typically call center, manufacturing and assembly. with some cross hire in Finance & IT. The Stereotypical ENTRY job in the US as We knew it in the 70's and 80's (clerical & entry level management) are no longer plentiful in the corp mkt. IF they exisit at all. Companies have Reclassifide and re defined positions, broader and/or more specialized skill sets are needed. the point I am trying to get across is everyone is satisfied or seems to be with the big fish little pond syndrom. However reality hits VERY hard when those same BIG fish enter college become little fish and then go into the job market and become ZYGOTS! IF you read the info i posted we are NOt preparing our kids adequately. Seaford, Wantagh even LI are but small specks on the map our kids need to be prepared to compete within a Global arena for jobs right here in the US.
Lorraine DeVita November 18, 2011 at 09:32 PM
That is one of the reasons so many college students are chosing Education as a major. It is not because they are "called" it is because they are weighing their options , they are aware of the competition in other job markets and are picking a solution that will get them employed in the most secure fashion out there right now.(even THIS is changing) Reality is, Jobs are NOT plentiful, experienced &unexperienced are competing for the same positions. Salaries are LOWER in most markets, Competition is FIERCE for even the most mundane run of the mill jobs. Companies are downsizing! Your claim that Education is Superior in Wantagh and Seaford to many places is just the type of statement that will come to backfire not in your face but in the faces of the students. IT is NOT superior to the group they will be competting with in the job markets here unless they are seeking jobs as cashiers, fast food servers or gas station attendents( our equal to chinas labor mills) It may be adequate at best but superior no, not until we collectively recognize that we need to give these kids the tools and education to prepare them for TODAYS global and highly competitve job markets ,not the job market WE encountered in what seems a lifetime ago.
Lorraine DeVita November 18, 2011 at 09:33 PM
When we dont strive for continued growth and excellence as indivduals , as caretakers of education, as parents and as business 's when we grow complacent, sit back on previous laurels, and are satisifed with the status quo we do ourselves ,the future of this country and our youth a great disservice and harm. Remember Seaford and Wantagh did NOT even make the top 500 HS's in the US . However some of our neighbors did... MaCarthur, Calhoun, South Side, to name a few. Seaford & Wantagh for all your claims of Superior didnt ! Your attitude is similiar to the Emperors New Clothes syndrom which unfortunately is VERY prevelant in this community and the kids suffer for it...because they are unprepared for the reality and rigors of today.
Wayne Smith November 19, 2011 at 11:44 AM
You're right - companies do move jobs to save money. As a country we've become a net exporter of jobs. But the real action has to do not just with the jobs we've lost, but the jobs that were never established here in the first place. Despite your characterization, these are not jobs performed in "sweat shops and prison-labor mills" but skilled positions performed by an educated work force. The Programme for International Assessment rankings I cited above are empirically based. In other words, it's based on how our students perform on tests relative to students from other countries. We might be opposed to that kind of methodology; we might even find it objectionable. But the point is it actually doesn't matter much what we think; it's what the players in a world economy think that matters and they do look at stuff like this. That's why there is pressure coming out of Washington being applied to all states - even the ones where we might think we have a "good" school system, albeit in a U.S. context. My personal opinion is that by far the biggest risk we face is our own complacency. I think assuming that the only jobs we've lost are positons that are relatively unattractive is a dangerous premise.

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