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Seaford Working Toward Required Teacher Evaluation Plan

District negotiating with bargaining units to find best ways to implement Annual Professional Performance Review.

The Seaford School District is in the process of trying to implement a new state-required Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) for its teachers and administrators.

APPR is an evaluation system for teachers, principals, psychologists and central office administrators that New York State was required to implement in order to continue receiving federal Race to the Top funds. APPR is based on multiple measures of performance including student achievement and classroom observations.

Seaford Superintendent of Schools Brian Conboy explained at Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting that he and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction John Striffolino have attended training sessions to try and get up to speed on implementing APPR. The district is in negotiations with the United Teachers of Seaford and the Seaford Association of School Administrators to determine how certain elements of APPR will be executed.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in his State of the State address this past January that any district without an approved APPR plan by Jan. 17, 2013 will lose state aid, which in Seaford’s case would amount to $411,000. Districts will also be faced with additional costs for training, record keeping and grading of assessments.

“This is going to be a massive undertaking for us and every other district next year,” said Conboy during the June 7 school board meeting held at Seaford Manor School. “But I think we have the people in place to make it successful here in Seaford.”

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Wayne Smith June 08, 2012 at 11:17 AM
I have a pretty hard time believing in this APPR system. You have a framework for employee evaulation, significant components of which are to be negotiated with unions representing the very employees to be evaluated. Meanwhile, school administrations have a gun held to their head, to the extent that the state has threatened to withhold state aid from any district failing to put this system in place. Needless to say, this gives the unions just a little bit of leveraging when it comes to negotiations. There are elements of this framework that are not subject to negotation - such as the use of certain standardized tests - but still, those who live in the corporate world, or even government service, will find this process to be strange, if nothing else. Parents of schooll-age kids will only want to know one thing: will this system succeed in quickly identifying problem teachers and remediating those situations either though effective, short-term performance improvement plans or termination? The worry is that after all the hype about this effort, and also considering the additional adminstrative load this kind of program undoubtedly entails, not much will change.
Lorraine DeVita June 08, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Wayne, I agree that the current process leaves a much to be desired, however that said it IS a start in the right direction. There has been to date no accountabilty whatsoever and no remedial measures to insure a fairly swift resolution when probelms are found. The current "observation" system without any palative method to measure the success or failure of any individual in education has failed miserably. This is a START albeit a weak one, but obviously one that has has caused a few moments of consternation for those who arent possibly as successful as they should be. Good and great teachers have nothing to fear their results will shine. Borderline and unsuccessful teachers have the most to lose and arent those the ones we WANT to lose anyway? There will always be costs associated with perfomance measurement and review regardless of the industry whether it equates to materials or time. This is a start hopefully one that will be tweeked revised & strengthened as the process develops from its less then perfect inception. We have got to begin somewhere, something as tangible as testing scores is a beginning.If a student's success can be measured, assessed & judged on their test results it is only fair that the individual teaching them be measured by the same standards..testing is a SMALL part of the total teacher evaluation process while it the measurement both the individual student and School District itself is held MOST accountable for.So why NOT the teacher?
Wayne Smith June 08, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Lorraine: Well, I want to believe - I really do - but only time will tell. The expectations are pretty sizable. Our friends in Albany have positioned APPR as a counterweight to a tenure system that has been perceived as an impediment to accountability. Parents, who often have decided opinons on where the weak links exist within a school district, will be looking for evidence that this new system has an impact. If they don't see it, their frustration will only get worse.
Lorraine DeVita June 08, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Wayne, you hit the nail on the head "a counterweight to a tenure system" Dont be surprised if NY slowly but inevitably within the next few years follows the steps of Wisconsin and soon to be California - Two states that WERE union strongholds. The outcomes there are being watched by BOTH parties to assertain the impact it will have on the elections. People in general want a SAY in what they pay taxes for and when their taxes support salaries and benefits that superceed their own and their ability to meet those demands especially for products or services that arent "on point" .. the axe will fall..in the next four years you will see a growing distain for unions across this country.. especially if a republican wins .. to paraphrase a statement made by the Union leader of GM- when asked what he thought was a major contributor to the finanical collapse of GM he stated quite emphatically- "management GIVING in to everyone one of our union demands, knowing full well long term they could never sustain them." how ironic. I have No friends in Albany that contribute to the long term financial demise of the economy of the state by supporting the unions that continue to contribute to drain the life blood out of residents / taxpayers..
Matthew Provenzano June 08, 2012 at 09:22 PM
I agree with you both in a couple ways. I do agree that this is a step in the right direction. Better to begin a program for accountability and see how it runs then to deny it and to offer no alternative. As a student in the district, I can guarantee for a fact that teachers need accountability in the classroom. Does that mean their very career should hinge on test marks? Of course not, just like a student's SAT scores do not fully decide a college acceptance. But you're right, students are evaluated on their empirical performance, and the evaluation of these teachers will be both empirical and anecdotal. And frankly, most teachers, administrators, and students know which teachers are most and least effective. For example, if a teacher consistently receives parental complaints across the board, receives low test scores for an extended period of time and does not match those students' performances in other areas, then it is definitely time to asses the validity of the teacher's position. Do I believe that a teacher's performance is a number? No, I don't. But what alternative can be applied? I am for this diversification of evaluations and I do think it will work very well. With our country in a truly global economy and where we are competing educationally with all people, it is high time that we have teachers who can meet the challenge.
Lorraine DeVita June 09, 2012 at 06:20 PM
standing cheering for a voice of a demographic that should be listened to...the "end user' the "consumer" ..the student an uptapped and fairly savey resource that we should be tapping for valuable insight on many different topics.
SSteacher June 10, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Basing teacher performance on student scores is like basing a doctors evaluation on how many patients they have that are obese. In both situation the professional can only do so much, it is up to the individual consumer to make the correct decisions to better their own lives. If students think the pressure to preform on Regents is already intense, make an adults job performance rest on that and students are going to get a real world education. If an employee is unproductive, a boss can fire that employee. A teacher cannot fire a student, nor have them removed from the classroom, even if they refuse to work or try to learn. In addition this system is going to cost tax payers significantly more money as the state is going to force districts to buy the baseline exams (SLO) from Pearson. Pearson then writes the exam and grades them at the tax payers expense. The state has already cut funds and imposed a tax cap and now put in an unfunded mandate that will further reduce the money for education that will directly help students. Because seat time is part of the equation as to evaluate students scores, there will sadly be a dramatic decrease in school trips and events that take place during the school day. The funniest part of this is that the state constantly changes the guidelines, objectives, time tables every week. I worry for the children that they will be over tested and reach levels of anxiety for tests that every study shows prove nothing.
Wayne Smith June 11, 2012 at 09:30 AM
The problem is expressed by your own words: "If an employee is unproductive, a boss can fire that employee." That's certainly true in the private sector, subject to certain legal constraints, but for years this has largely been untrue when it comes to teachers. I'm willing to bet that a competent school adminstrator knows full well who, among his or her teaching staff, constitute the weakest 10%; most teachers themselves know that about their peers, to say nothing of what parents think. But they can't act on this knowledge because of tenure, union rules, and an enormously cumbersome arbitration process, all of which constitute barriers to exercising the kind of discretion they should be apploying. So if you wanted to have a much more efficient, lower cost system, you would simply allow those adminstrators to remove non-performing teachers and you would hold them accountable if they didn't. But instead the process in needlessly complicated, needlessly time-consuming and needlessly expensive. You're right: the testing business is a great business for Pearson, Harcourt and other publishers. Those guys have been and will continue to make some serious money. But at the end of the day, you could circumvent all of this if you eliminated tenure and simply allowed school adminstrators to do exactly what you're referencing: fire unproductive employees.
Lorraine DeVita June 11, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Standing and cheering AND fist pumping- WAY TO GO WAYNE....you hit the perverbial nail on the perverbial head. WELL stated ....might i add the legal costs to "fire " a teacher" in some cases will superceed the cost for a year of testing. The COST to the district to remove a tenured teacher is for the most part Prohibitive. Most SD's if pushed for a fairly Swift process, will encourage and allow the teacher to "retire" with a full compliment of benefits rather then incur the legal fee's and time it would normally take to fire the teacher.
SSteacher June 15, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Wayne, how many teachers do you think this expensive program is going to uncover as under preforming? I believe that not a single teacher will be let go from Seaford next year. I would be surprised if one teacher is removed from this process over five years. This was done to appease parents who are bombarded with the perception that the US is failing in education. While some parts of the country are, Long Island is clearly not. If Long Island was a state we would have the highest scores in the nation and the lowest drop out rate. This testing is going to cost the districts money that could have been used to educate students, buy computers, buy new textbooks, pay for remediation......all things that would actually benefit the kids. I am all for getting rid of bad teachers, but this perception that schools are loaded with them is just not the case. I bet we can both agree that time will tell who is correct on this issue. However, in the years to come when no one has been removed and the district has spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours on these tests, I hope you will be willing to admit that this was a terrible idea.
Wayne Smith June 16, 2012 at 10:13 AM
SS Teacher: I actually agree more than disagree with what you're saying. My guess is that not much will change and that's the problem. On the other hand, I find little reason for comfort in the fact that Long Island does well compared with other parts of the nation, when you consider that the United States is not even close to being a leader in education compared with other developed nations .Remember that our kids have to work in industries and markets that are now worldwide, not limited by our own borders. For all the gnashing of teeth about how to improve education, the truth is our school districts are now sitting on an unprecedented opportunity to significantly raise their performance levels, if this whole evaluation framework were used wisely. Setting aside discussions about how a "failing'" teacher should be defined, I would argue that a reasonably normal distribution would result in the ability to be able to identify the lowest 10% of all teachers, when it comes to their performance. Once those teachers were identified, I would argue that they should simply we walked out the door. A district could then re-hire more competent teachers from a pool of talent that we know has gotten much deeper over the last few years because of headcount cuts in other districts. And because a lot of those cuts were made on the basis of seniority, there's a lot of talent out there. I doubt anything like this will ever happen, which is a shame.
SSteacher June 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Wayne, we are not "far" behind as the media likes to portray America. Are there sections of America that struggle and are pulling the rest down, no question. Inner city schools are a reflection of their communities. That does not mean that the school can fix all the problems. That would be an impossible task for a school. That being said, if we were to take out the inner cities, America would be at or near the top of all educational measures. Here is another issue, in the US we educate everyone. In many foreign countries there is a weeding-out process so that when children reach HS, only the best and brightest are around to be tested. We promote education for children of all talent levels. Some just dont have the ability to score as high as others, but they all still count. A final issue is motivation of students. In the past when a student received a low grade, the parent looked at the student and said why did this happen. Today, the parent comes into the teacher and asks the same question of them?! In other countries college is paid for if you can get accepted. Talk about motivation? If you can get in, it is paid for? How many parents would be on their children for that type of success. I see parents pull out children for outside sports team tournaments so they can get a scholarship. even when they are failing in school. The problems in schools is not the teaching and these tests are only going to cost the taxpayer money and waste the time of the teachers and students.
Wayne Smith June 16, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Actually I'm not focusing on media reports and in any event, what I pay attention to really doesn't matter much anyhow. It's what gets attention among employers or other participants in a world economy. One illustraton of this is the OECD Program for Internaional Student Assessment, which ranks the US as 14th out of 34 OECD nations when it comes to reading, 17th for science, and below-average at 25th for math. Certainly there are inherent challenges to educating kids in the US, but at least some of those challenges exist in other countries as well. Regardless, the point is the bar keeps getting raised in a world where the US is now no longer the only place, or even in some cases, the best place, to obtain a quality education. Again, doesn't matter what I think; what matters is what a hiring manager at a multinational company thinks, or the person responsible for deciding where to locate a business that needs to be able to access a skilled labor force.
SSteacher June 16, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I agree. We have a huge skilled labor force. WE have excellent candidates for any and every position. But again, you brought up the idea of world rankings. All those in power know how they are formulated. Let me give a US example of what I am talking about. The ranking of schools nation wide is completely bogus. They use the number of students who took an AP class as a measure. I worked in a school that put almost every student in the AP class (children with 75 averages) because then they would rank higher than other schools (they were in the 30s nation wide that year). The rankings do not count if a child PASSED the exam, only if they took it. Children without the ability in those higher level classes bring down the entire learning process, not because they are bad kids, but because they are not gifted enough to do it. Another even more local example is the ranking of NYS schools. Cuomo used a flawed model that said NYS was in the 30's out of 50 states to push through educational reform. A similar study from a non-partisan organization ranked NYS in the top ten. Wealthier districts have already rejected the APPR from the state with the threat of losing state aid because they know it will not prove anything and is a waste of their time, manpower and money. This is such a disaster. Again, the only people who will be hurt by this will be the students because they are going to start the year BOMBING tests which will hurt their intrinsic motivation. Its very sad.
Wayne Smith June 16, 2012 at 03:39 PM
And so given all that, I would re-state my original premise, which is that we'd a far more effective process if we simply eliminated tenure.
SSteacher June 16, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Wayne, the elimination of tenure would mean the end of any public discussion on any controversial issues, teachers pushing for more demanding classes, holding students accountable (many admin would rather push them through because it is less of a headache for them), the removal senior experienced teachers for cheaper ones despite the impact on students, and the complete elimination of academic freedom. We can disagree on this point, but the waste in money and increase in state bureaucracy to run the new system is going to cost me and you a small fortune for ZERO postive impact on students.
Wayne Smith June 16, 2012 at 07:31 PM
I agree that we disagree.
Lorraine DeVita June 27, 2012 at 04:17 PM
teaching to the test- i dont understand this issue- If you have a mandated curriculum to follow and you teach it well and the TEST is based on the curriculm then pls explain what the harm is in teaching to the test. no one said when you teach to the test you had to exclude critical thinking, inferential reseasoning or diminish the latitude or depth of a subject. or be less creative in your methodologies .. Doesnt teaching to a test simply mean you have insured your students understand and grasp the concepts of the curriculm well enough to pass the exam. How does it impede the education of the student?Pls note I am not being sarcastic i truly would like a knowledgeable non sarcastic answer..
Chris Wendt June 27, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I would start with a more basic premise, what is the efficacy of "THE TEST"? To which I offer the following self-response: none to negative. ("Efficacy is the capacity to produce an effect", with either of the adjectives "desired" or "intended" understood as being modifiers of the noun, effect). The next consideration I would lay out for you is "cost-benefit" or, "cost effectiveness", and for the purpose of this discussion, I mean the cost relative to the benefits or effectiveness of both THE TEST, and, of teaching to the test, and, by extension, of APPR itself, to whatever extent or weight is given to the results of THE TEST, you know, out there in THE REAL WORLD, wherever you think the real world is. I submit that THE TEST and teaching to it is probably more efficacious in places like Yonkers and the Bronx, or in states like Mississippi or Arkansas, than in suburban Long Island. But the government is partial to throwing out the baby with the bath water, and could not focus on improving crappy school systems without throwing the good ones into the bathtub for the same hard scrubbing. Efficacy, results...in Wantagh and Seaford the same stellar results, the same maximum graduation rates, the same stratospheric college-bound rates have existed and persisted for over 60 years that I am aware. We didn't need no stinking TEST back then, and we don't need no stinking TEST now. Same for teaching to THE TEST, and double for APPR to measure teachers' careers against.
Lorraine DeVita June 30, 2012 at 10:33 AM
Chris, Sitting here scratching my head at that last comment. Do you advocate NO testing AT ALL? Just throw the material out there and HOPE it sticks? Should we abolish SAT's ACt's, Regents too? Do you advocate and support the concept that you dont need a standard or measurement? If you support standards then how do you hope to monitor them improve them, make corrections, adjust or insure they are being met? You keep touting the results in Wantagh and Seaford are STELLAR- Chris the RESULTS dont support the comment. While the results are ADEQUATE - and in some cases improving. STELLAR is not an adjective i personally would use at this time. . If we abolish testing and dont measure through testing or performance evaluations HOW do you know a person is meeting a pre defined STANDARD? Whether that be a student or a teacher or for that matter ANY individual in ANY job? Interesting concept chris.... Those "stinking" tests are there afor a reason.. to INSURE the student is grasping the material.. The STUDENT has a RESULT if they dont perform to a standard on a test of the material they were taught. Why NOT the teacher who is REPOSNSIBLE for TEACHING the material? You concept is do away with all testing and let the chips fall where they may? Interesting - illogical but interesting ...
Chris Wendt June 30, 2012 at 11:51 AM
I gave my opinion of what are known as State Assessments, THE TEST(s), created for an entirely different purpose, but which have since become the very curriculum, the effectiveness of which they were intended to assess, and which will soon be used as hard date points in teacher evaluations. In my opinion, no, we do not need those standardized state assessments any more than we need APPR. By "we", I mean Wantagh, Seaford, and most LI school districts. The standard is spelled out in the NY State Constitution, "a sound, basic education". That is THE STANDARD which we are specifically financially required to support with our taxes. Your post points directly at THE PROBLEM trying to equate THE TEST with teacher PERFORMANCE: STUDENT PERFORMANCE and, PARENTAL PERFORMANCE. The fourth variable in the equation is the curriculum itself, meaning the syllabus, the textbooks, workbooks, manipulatives and other teaching aids, as well as the technology brought to bear on the subject. The assessments were created (1) to evaluate the curriculum and (2) to identify students at a early age who needed either supportive services or remediation, as part of NCLB. Numerous factors may underlie a child's requiring services, including maturation, development, disability, home life, language proficiency, disruptive or hostile school environment, poor curriculum, outdated textbooks, lack of support materials and supplies, poor teaching, poor scheduling or ineffective testing.

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