BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo public schools are back in the spotlight, after state education officials raised questions about the way the district evaluates its teachers.
State Education staffers found mistakes in the evaluations of about 100 teachers and principals who were initially rated as “effective” or “highly effective”–the highest ratings they can receive. But after a review of the evaluations, the state set the ratings at “developing”, or “ineffective”–the two lowest categories, which can eventually lead to dismissal.
“It’s not one of our better moments,” conceded interim Buffalo School Superintendent Don Ogilvie who said his administrators are conducting their own audit of the teacher evaluations–called Annual Professional Performance Reviews, or APPR’S–to see what led to those flawed outcomes.
Ogilvie said the audit is designed to “correct what is wrong but, number two, to correct the system in the process. So that, going forward, we will have more reliable information.”
The Department of Education considers the evaluations critical because it is supposed to help administrators identify teachers who are not up to the task, and put them on Teacher Improvement Plans. Two consecutive subpar reviews and a teacher’s job could be on the line.
Ogilvie is not so sure, it was the teachers that needed improvement in those flawed evaluations, “This is the proof that a very complex evaluation system was not managed in a way that will get the results that we hope for–and that is continual improvement.”
Teachers union president Phil Rumore told News 4, he only knows what the teachers are telling him, “We are trying to get to the bottom of it now, but let’s put it this way: it’s a big mess.”
Rumore said, by law, it is already too late to put teachers, with flawed evaluations, on improvement plans. Those are supposed to be done at the beginning of the school year.
“Teachers were supposed to receive information within the first three days of school–the first day of school. Teacher Improvement Plans have to be submitted, by law, 10 days after the beginning of the school year–before that.”
Rumore added, it is not a few miscast teachers that are bringing down public education in Buffalo, “It is the lack of support services, it’s the lack of class sizes. It is the lack of all the kind of things that we need. It is inflicting these tests on our kids, and it is brutalizing them. That’s the problem.”
Teachers unions across New York agreed to the evaluations because millions of dollars in state aid was at stake. In turn, state lawmakers adopted a “safety net” to protect teachers in the first two years of the evaluation rollout, but Governor Cuomo has not signed that measure into law.