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New Hyde Park Educators Oppose Evaluation System

New process that began in September is flawed, principals' group contends.

New Hyde Park Educators Oppose Evaluation System

Eight top educators in the New Hyde Park area from the , and school districts joined hundreds of Long Island public school principals in challenging the state Education Department and criticizing new standards for evaluating teachers.

The new rules went into effect in September as New York State worked to 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 .

“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.

New Hyde Park school principals who signed the letter included James Svendsen, ; Diane Weiss, ; , ; Edward Bellomo, Center Street; Mary Louise Haley, Denton Avenue; Joan Keegan, Herricks Middle School; Dr. Jane Modoono, ; and Elizabeth Guercin, Searingtown.

They were joined by principals in the nearby communities of Garden City, Mineola and Port Washington, among other Long Island districts.

“At first glance, using 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.

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 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 percent -- 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 percent -- locally-selected measures of student achievement that are determined to be rigorous and comparable across classrooms (decreases to 15 percent upon implementation of a value-added growth model); and
  • 60 percent -- other measures of teacher/principal effectiveness.

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