- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Better than nine out of 10 New York school teachers were rated effective or highly effective last year, results of state-mandated reviews showed Tuesday. Education leaders said it may be the evaluation system itself that needs improvement.

Statewide, 41.9 percent of teachers were rated as highly effective, 53.7 percent were effective, 3.7 percent were rated as developing and 0.7 percent ineffective under the state’s Annual Professional Performance Review law.

It was the second consecutive year that evaluations gave high scores to the vast majority of teachers while only about a third of students were proficient in English and math, based on statewide tests.

“The ratings show there’s much more work to do to strengthen the evaluation system,” said Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the policy-setting Board of Regents.

For the first time, New York City teachers were rated under the APPR guidelines. Teachers elsewhere have been evaluated for the past two years based on a formula that combines student growth on state assessments, classroom observation and local measures.

Of New York City teachers, 9.2 percent were rated highly effective, 82.5 percent were rated effective, 7 percent were rated as developing and 1.2 percent were ineffective.

Outside of New York City, 58.2 percent of teachers received the highest rating, and 39.3 percent were rated effective. Two percent scored as developing, and 0.4 percent were found to be ineffective.

Although the state provided a template for the evaluations, each of the state’s 700 districts negotiated with their teachers to customize the process. The state imposed a system on New York City after the city and the teachers union failed to agree on one.

Education Commissioner John King Jr. called the evaluation process “a work in progress.”

“I’m concerned that in some districts, there’s a tendency to blanket everyone with the same rating,” King said. “That defeats the purpose of the observations and the evaluations, and we have to work to fix that.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who pushed for the evaluations as a way to improve teacher effectiveness, said stronger, more competitive standards will be a priority in the next legislative session.

New York’s largest teachers union said the current system leans too heavily on Common Core-aligned test scores and does not accurately reflect teachers’ work in the classroom.

“We look forward to working collaboratively in the coming months to fix this broken system,” NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said.

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