SUPERINTENDENT EXPLAINS NEW TEACHER EVALUATION REGULATIONS AT BOE MEETING
April 20, 2015 -- At this past Thursday's North Shore Board of Education meeting, Schools Superintendent Edward Melnick offered an overview of how the new Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), the evaluation system for teachers, will work. Under the new regulations that were proposed by the Governor and agreed to by the state legislature earlier this month, teachers’ evaluations will continue to be based on student test scores but with more stringent requirements for demonstrating “student growth” from one year to the next. In addition, an outside “independent” evaluator’s classroom observation will now count towards the teacher’s rating. The outside evaluator can work as an administrator at another building in the district, the Superintendent said. If the district chooses, a third observation can be done by another teacher, but that teacher would have to have a rating of "highly effective." Additionally, "anything that measures real learning," Dr. Melnick said, "we would no longer be permitted to legally use in the evaluation of a teacher." Those measures include lesson plans, artifacts of teacher practice, professional goal setting, instruments of parent or student feedback, and student portfolios. "I think this is the most absurd piece of the legislation," Dr. Melnick said.
The New York State Department of Education will over the next several months decide what percentage of a teacher's rating will be based on the test scores and what percentage will be based on the outside observer's evaluation. Governor Cuomo has proposed 50% for the test scores and 35% for the observation done by the outside evaluator, with 15% being determined by administrators within the teacher's school. After two years of "ineffective ratings" the district could begin termination proceedings against the teacher. After a third straight year, the district would have no choice but to begin such proceedings.
Additionally Dr. Melnick stated that under the new regulations the probationary period for granting tenure is being extended from three years to four years, and teachers must receive ratings of effective or highly effective in three of those years, one of which must be the the fourth year. A teacher who receives an ineffective or developing student growth score based on a single standardized test would automatically receive an ineffective rating for his entire evaluation, regardless of the observation scores. If that happened during the fourth year, Dr. Melnick explained that the district would not be able to grant the teacher tenure even if his supervisors believed the individual to be an outstanding teacher.
For the new APPR to go into effect, it must be agreed to by the North Shore teacher's union, the Superintendent explained. If the District does not submit its new evaluation system to the state by November 15, two and a half months into the school year for which it will apply, Dr. Melnick said that the District could lose this year's 10.9% increase in state aid - about $430,000.
Asked by Northwordnews on Monday what sort of increase in state aid the district had planned for when devloping its budget and determining the tax levy for next year, Assistant Superintendent for Business Olivia Buatsi said that the district had planned for a 1.7% increase - or just under $70,000. That would be the effective impact on next year's revenue stream - about half the amount that the District is coming in under the tax levy limit.
If the district were to not adopt the new regulations, the potential loss of the $70,000 the district anticipated receiving would most likely have to come from reserves since the District has, as the law requires, already submitted to the state the tax levy amount that will go before voters this May.
40% OF DISTRICT STUDENTS OPT OUT OF ELA EXAMS
Dr. Melnick reported that about 40% of North Shore students in grades 3-8 opted out of the New York State English Language Arts Common Core assessments that had been given over the previous three days. He said that most districts county wide fell within the 30%-50% range of students opting out, with a few lower income and racial/ethnic minority-majority districts showing small numbers of opt outs. The consequences for exceeding 5% with regard to opt outs, the Superintendent said, is that none of the district's schools would be able to be designated "reward schools," and that the elementary schools and middle school would appear on a New York State "watch list." "Just to see how absurd all of this is," he said, he pointed out that Glenwood Landing School would be going from one year being designated as a United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon School, only to be placed on New York State's "watch list," or what he later said is now called a "struggling school." "It shows you how misleading statistics can be," the Superintendent observed.
$97.6 MILLION SPENDING PLAN ADOPTED
After having gone through the 2015-16 budget page by page at meetings over the past two months, the seven trustees without any further comment this past Thursday night voted to adopt the $97,575,530 spending plan, that represents an increase of 1.8% over the current budget. The tax levy, which was agreed to in early March, is $89,580347, an increase of 1.93 % over the current year, but $139,900 below the tax cap. Residents will have the opportunity to vote on the budget and candidates for two Board of Education trustees positions on May 19.
CLICK HEADLINES BELOW FOR PAST ARTICLES ON BUDGET DISCUSSIONS
COMPROMISING, SCHOOL BOARD AGREES TO PUT BEFORE VOTERS A TAX LEVY $139,900 BELOW CAP (March 2, 2015)