Comments from Signatories

Comments From New York Principals and others who signed the paper

Principal

I am puzzled how an evaluation system has been developed without the input from the evaluators. I fully support the use of rubrics in lesson and teacher evaluations, but to assign a "foilable" numerical value can potentially destroy years and even decades of developed professionalism and good will amongst faculty and supervisors. Such relationships are critically important to the structure of a positive learning environment. I hope we can move forward with the big idea in mind---doing what is best for our learners.


Principal

I am proud to support this position paper. The ideas and concepts contained in it represent the collective wisdom of our organization and all that we know, all that we believe, and all that we represent. Unless the present course of action is stopped and redirected, the very future of public education in our State is threatened. It doesn't have to be this way!!! We can and should do better. We are ready, willing and most able to help. Please let us!


Superintendent of Schools

My wisdom and experience of 33 years as a Superintendent of Schools tell me that the APPR legislation is seriously flawed, regressive and is not enforceable. It is politically driven. Good policy makes good politics. But, good politics does not necessarily make good policy. APPR is not good policy and is not good politics. It must be redesigned at best or repealed at worst.


Teacher union president

I am a union president, not a principal and I concur with the contents of this letter. I appreciate the work of this group of principals and look forward to a remedy to this madness.


A NYC teacher

Dear Long Island Principals,

Thank you , for your bravery, wisdom, and organization in getting this letter written and distributed. I hope to spread the word to my colleagues, so that they can sign as well. We are in a school that is piloting this evaluation, and even though nothing is official, it is extremely confusing, overwhelming, and stress-producing. Not to mention that our contractual rights are being ignored in many ways. But everyone is very quiet and seems afraid to speak up. "


Teacher

The APPR is taking away from my prep time to do my school work for the next day or week.  I could be using this time to prepare for my week classes.  Also I use my prep school time to do the APPR when I could be correcting papers or planning for the next week, etc.  I am a professional and I feel I do not have to document everything that I do.  My students performance tells me.  My evidence- I only had one student not pass my course and that grade was a 61%.  Most of my students are in the 72% to 100% percentile for an average in my class. So in conclusion, my kids are doing what they should be doing for their grade level. I am going beyond to meet my kids performance levels.

Have a great day and lets get back to the kids and not all this busy work.  I have enough during the day, week and year too do.  Let me teach!


Teacher

As a professional I realize the importance of change and why change is needed.  Unfortunately, the way in which these changes are being made is negatively impacting the children of New York State.  The way these changes are being implemented goes against everything we know about education and makeing sound decisions.  I'm worried about the children in our school district as a parent and an educator.  Who's steering this ship?


Teacher

As President of the [xxx] Mathematics Teachers' Association I am 100% behind the effort of the principals involved with this campaign.  It is ludicrous to think that the collective performance of children on a standardized exam can have any effect on a teacher's evaluation.  I support the recommendation that everyone would be best served if the entire building is given a rating, as opposed to individual teachers and administrators. :

It will become a competition amongst educators.  The collegial sharing of ideas and lessons will end.  Teachers will no longer volunteer to take on the students who need the most help. Teacher


Teacher

As a special education teacher, I am concerned with how APPR will impact the field of special education.  We have come so far in recognizing the needs of our students and educating them alongside their peers as much as possible, but when I hear other teachers say, ""I won't teach in an integrated class anymore if ALL of the students' scores impact my effectiveness"", I feel very sad.   That was not the intent of APPR, but it certainly has become a very ugly unintended consequence.  Please strongly consider the recommendations put forth in this position paper!


Parent

What a well thought out coherent policy statement that addresses the concern all parents and educators should have regarding this issue. While everyone needs to be evaluated, the evaluation needs to make sense.  If you fire people based on an inappropriate tool, it is an unjust system similar to firing salespeople whose sales decline during a recession or depression.  You cannot isolate performance from the other forces that influence a child's life.  So many children are living in families that are experiencing economic stress, addiction, mental health issues, divorce and separation, etc. All of these factors influence how a child performs.  We need to be cognizant that children are not automatons and teachers are not always going to be successful no matter how competent and passionate they are about their job.

There are too many other factors that contribute to overall student achievement in school for the state to hold teachers completely accountable for student test scores.  The new APPR proposals are unfair especially to teachers who work hard to support their students in higher need districts.  There is too much testing, time and resources being used to implement state mandates.  Teachers and students are being used so there is less learning happening and more screening and testing.  Students have less opportunities to think creatively because they are being taught to the tests.  Another example of the negative effects of the new APPR proposals is that prospective  future educators are leaving their college educational programs because they are aware of what is happening and do not want to be faced with the pressure.


Teacher

Please foresee the negative effects these APPR proposals will have on the future of education in New York State.  Please help provide more learning resources for students instead of forcing school districts to waste the money on these unnecessary mandates.  Thank you.


Teacher

The APPR is promoting poor teaching practices in order to raise test scores.


Superintendent

I endorse the position in this letter.  Reform is not accomplished with the wave of a magic wand.  Genuine reform must be  systemic and that takes time and effort.  Right now NYS is engaged in a reductionist approach to teaching and learning.


Assistant Superintendent

Although NYS has 'won' Race to the Top funds, the students of NYS are the losers.  Teachers who fear poor performance by a student may not recommend a challenging course or may encourage a struggling student to drop a challenging course; thus closing academic doors and limiting the potential for career or college opportunities.

As the school librarian/media specialist, I see all grades regularly.  I see that at all grade levels, K - 5, units which teachers have always taught are either being drastically shortened or jettisoned altogether due to the large numbers of local assessments being developed and field tested.  More and more is being crammed into an already packed finite time period and something has to give.  What a pity that it is those things which an individual teacher might be passionate about which are discarded, just to make room for even more assessments.  That does not even address the question as to whether teachers can or should be themselves evaluated by their students' scores on these assessments.  The assessments are obstacles to education, not education.  Librarian


Counselor

I am a parent, teacher, and school counselor.  Currently I counsel at-risk youth at a non-secure detention center in Niagara County, less than part time.  My primary focus is my 3 children and their education coupled with their emotional growth.  I am becoming ever informed of NYS governmental infringements and hindrance in my children's education.  I sit on a Solutions Committee at school and have voiced my disapproval in regards to this new wave of Race to the Top testing which will only prove to be costly, invalid due to variables not being tested, and highly stressful for children and teachers alike.  I was directed towards your website and I will be a voice here in Niagara County for more parents to become informed in hopes they will voice their disapproval via this website.  Thank you for laying such impressive groundwork and data.  If there is anything I can do to assist you in this effort please contact me via my email. 


Aspiring teacher

I am an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University majoring in Special Education and Elementary Education. Due to the new teacher evaluation system, Williamson County, which is an affluent school district in Tennessee, is banning student teachers from teaching core academic content areas in high schools. The trend may soon follow for elementary schools as well.


Principal

Student learning and student achievement are first and foremost in the minds of the overwhelming majority of teachers and administrators on Long Island.  To base evaluations on assessments that were designed to measure students' achievement and not teacher effectiveness is shocking.  How are we going to be evaluating fairly those teachers in areas that there are not NYS tests.  Why wasn't this piloted first?  I hope a more equitable system will be created with input from the distinguished educators throughout the State.  


Teacher

The outcome of a child's performance on a single day does not justify the competency of the teacher. The factors that contribute to the outcome of the test are extremely variable: did the child sleep well, does the child receive support and assistance from the parents at home, is English spoken at home, is the child from a stable environment, does the child have proper nutrition for cognitive success, does the child have learning disabilities or challenges or suffer from test anxiety...and so on.

The principal, through their observations and contact with teachers, should be responsible for the school's success, as long as the administrator's have access to the assistance that is needed to support the teaching staff to ensure the success of each child.


Assistant principal

The amount of work put into evaluations his drastically increased.  Time for other things (programming, welfare of individual kids, etc.) has been severely strained. 


Teacher

APPR will only result in higher cost to the taxpayer due to increase in amount of work for administrators and the hiring of more administrators to cover the increased work load and storage of appr materials for years on end. Who is making money on this mandate? The publishers?

No one works well in an environment of fear which has led to college students choosing other careers. If you making teaching miserable only the miserable teachers will stay. If you want to attract the best and the brightest teachers, treat them like they are the best and brightest. Give teachers respect and power they deserve.


Teacher

I am the president of the 1200 member [xx]Federation of United School Employees (NYSUT Local), and I applaud your articulate, well researched and compelling letter opposing the mis-use of state assessments and the rushed, inept process followed by the SED to implement flawed legislation.


Teacher

The proposed changes will pit teacher against teacher.  Gone will be the people who seek out the most difficult students. Those students will become pawns to be traded from class to class.  Disadvantaged students will be seen as a detriment to a teacher's evaluation. In a school such as mine, where there is a disproportionate number of such students, the effects will be disastrous. At this point, we have teachers who pride themselves on the academic growth of all the students in their care....teachers who hold the hand of such students and patiently lead them in the right direction. With the proposed changes and with their employment on the line, the dynamics of the student/teacher relationship is sure to change in a negative way.

The global approach would set the stage for improved accountability without stigmatizing individual students.


Teacher

As a teacher, taxpayer and parent in NY, I am incredibly concerned with the effects of this new legislation on the state of education in NY. I have seriously considered removing myself and my children from NY state in recent months as a result of these poorly designed policies that appear clearly intended to shift much needed money from the schools and teacher and into the coffers of industry. I for one won't stand around and take this. I can and will leave this dysfunctional environment before I allow this legislation to hurt my family.


Parent

I do not support the use of standardized testing to measure student, teacher, or a school's performance. The overuse of standardized testing has taken valuable instruction time away from students. No Child Left Behind was the beginning of a steady downslide in student performance in the US. We should be looking at top performing countries like Finland where they do not rely on standardized tests but instead invest time and money to develop teachers. Finnish teachers are highly trained and well compensated - it is more difficult to gain admission to a graduate program in education in Finland than it is to gain entry into medical or law school. The US continues to move in a direction that is further eroding the quality of education and this legislation will hurt both students and teachers.


District Chairperson

NYS staff should visit schools to see how this legislation is creating excessive tension in our schools among all staff members and administrators. The work load is reaching excessive levels. There has been not time to process or plan for this legislation. 


School Board Member

Thank you to Long Island principals for taking the lead in this effort to hold the State accountable.  Our students, teachers and administrators all deserve better.


Teacher

I have been for fair and meaningful accountability all along.  Historically, as a high performing school, PS [XX] has scored Well Developed and Outstanding in the most recent Quality Reviews taking pride in comprehensive professional development and monitoring student progress.  However, since we entered Race to the Top, the emphasis on student testing and, at the same time, teacher data reports coming from the State and the City have started dominating the school’s agenda.  Now, the new teacher evaluation system that is being introduced by the State, the City, and the Talent Management Pilot Program, does not take into consideration the time and effort our community has invested in establishing high quality educational programs and student achievement.  The new teacher evaluation system is based on test scores and educational philosophy not research-based methodology.  Communities like ours are disregarded by the new evaluation system for all the work we have done so far to provide high quality teaching and learning.  We are heading toward testing overriding quality teaching; the teaching profession has been undermined and devalued by policy makers and leadership disconnected from day-t-day school life. 


Teacher

Thank you for what you are doing.  I'm sure there is a lot of pressure about doing this, but something must be done.  It just keeps getting worse.

Having been in the elementary schools the past 10 years, I can see the futility of so much testing and instruction with the tests in mind.  Thank you again and good luck.


Principal

I completely agree with the Position paper as presented by the Principals on Long Island.  Implementing the Common Core Standards that emphasize cognitive engagement, constructivist learning, 21st century skills, and depth of knowledge, while at the same time understanding Multiple Intelligences, learning styles, quadrants of the brain, IEP's, and that all students learn differently requires that I oppose NYS evaluation system, its philosophy and theory, as well as NYS political and economic agenda.  As an educator I cannot support a system that requires students, who all learn differently, to have the same level of academic achievement at the end of a given year.  Furthermore, I cannot support a system that seeks to supplant common sense for politics, and the economic advantage of a few, mainly publishers, to further the political agenda of our incompetent lawmakers.


Teacher

It is time that ALL of New York State educators speak out against these reforms that will do more harm than good for our students. What Commissioner King fails to recognize is that it is quite damaging to declare "We must do better." This belittles the efforts of thousands of teachers who strive to "do better" everyday with minimal resources and even less recognition of their efforts, time, and commitment.


Teacher

As a veteran fourth grade teacher, I strongly support the points presented in this paper.  Children and teachers should not be relegated to numbers.  Not only are the current NYS ELA and Math tests extraordinarily flawed, but they do not reflect the achievement of the students. To make the state tests "harder," all that was done was to make the material inappropriate to grade 4 level.  That is why the math scores in NYS are lower - it is because the test content is inappropriate.  Fourth graders can not master the abstract concept of equivalent fractions and decimals until grade 5, and yet these units are incorporated into the fourth grade NYS math test.  Furthermore, as a Ph.D. in American History from Columbia University, I was unable to read the over abundant passages on the new ELA exams, which encompasses 70 minutes. How many fourth graders are developmentally ready to sit for that long? I do not know who is making these changes in student assessment and teacher evaluation, but that committee should be fired.  How can we bring critical thinking and creative projects to our curriculum, if all we have to do is use the $32, 000,000 earmarked to Pearson Publishing Company for state testing. Can these funds be used more expeditiously to teach our students? I should think so! Something is dramatically wrong with this recent wave in education with student assessment and teacher evaluation and this trend must be stopped!!! 


Teacher

As a teacher who has been in the education business for 27 years, I am angry and frustrated that our government spends money so easily and quickly without deep thought on educational issues.  I have seen so many rushed programs that must be implemented only to be dropped a few years later.  This waste of valuable time, effort and money sickens me. I can only add that you will drive good teachers out of education with the never ending assault on teachers and this APPR is another foolish example of not thinking and rushing a program in so that school districts chase the government incentive money.  Race to the Top...I want to race for the door!   


Principal

This "build it while it is flying" approach to creating a new design for supervision and evaluation makes all educators look unprepared and sloppy.  A very unfair scar on thousands of principals across the state who had little or no role in creating this new process.  It further destroys the credibility of the NYSED, when they should be there to inspire, support and fund the many schools that are still recovering from the terrific cuts in state aid from the past three years.


Teacher

As a teacher of fifteen years, I am saddened and disgusted by these attempts to corporatize and profit from education.  Teacher experience in these matters is ignored.  We are vilified and blamed for all the problems in education.  [XXX}  who champion a one-size-fits-all approach like the Common Core are a big part of the problem with our schools.  By emphasizing accountability they are missing the whole point.  Teachers are not motivated to do well by fear of losing their jobs; they are motivated by a love for learning, teaching and a genuine concern for the children they teach. We would be better served if we abolished all standardized testing completely, invested all the money saved into hiring more teachers, and then gave those teachers the tools to come up with the solutions to teaching in their classrooms.  And by tools I mean books, technology, libraries, field trips, music programs, science fairs, etc. and NOT staff development days, guest lecturers who admonish us not to fear change every time we turn around and grad students with six figure incomes who condescend to tell us how to teach.


Teacher

As a teacher and local union president, I applaud your desire to improve student achievement.  I do however have an issue with you using unfunded mandates, an APPR process that is has not been tested or piloted, and increasing the work load of both teachers and administrators, while we are working with 25% fewer educators in our district because of layoffs due to inequitable state funding.  There is no "fat" at [XXX], we cannot trim anymore!


Teacher

I feel it is unfair for the education department to pass down direction for teacher/principal evaluation that is based, solely or in part, on student test score performance. Tests which are flawed to begin with, cannot possibly give an accurate view of the abilities of a teacher in the classroom let alone determine the worth of the administrator in any school.

The current format also creates a chasm amongst the faculty because not everyone is being subjected to the same scrutiny. In tandem APPR creates an undesirable environment for good, hard working and proven teachers/principals who have several years of experience.  It could be predicted that this new working condition will cause quality teachers and administrators to change careers midstream and/or prevent promising young educators to embark upon a career in education at all.


Teacher

The regulations for the new APPR system are going to achieve nothing in the evaluation of teaching faculty.  It will continue to hinder the real reform we need in public schools across this state.  Value added models were never created to be the basis for academic success based upon narrow search criteria.  Teacher effectiveness is both and art and a science.  Real reform comes from development of teaching professionals, such as the National Board Certification process.  This is the area that New York should push for classroom teachers.


Teacher

Effective teaching combines art and science and emotion and cognition in ways that can never be reflected on a spread sheet. Rating an educator under these new regulations will compromise the "humanity" that allows brilliant teachers to be innovative, loving, and progressive.


Principal

If anything is a distraction to the learning process, it is the number of times teachers are removed from the classroom for ""testing/scoring"" responsibilities as well the insane number of times principals are OFF school grounds for wasteful training.  

Testing and poorly processed State initiatives rate as one of the GREATEST barriers to learning.


Teacher

A well thought out model that puts the needs of students first rather than piling more assessments onto their already overstressed lives is needed.  Plans for what to do with subject areas currently without formal assessment, such as elementary music, art, PE, library arts is needed.  I am in support of thorough assessment of teachers that takes all areas of their professional success and areas in need of improvement into account.  However, APPR as spelled out currently would be over stressing the already understaffed schools due to the financial restraints of the past few years, and could potentially give an inaccurate representation of what students and teachers are capable of.


Professor

I am pleased to  see a document, such as this, which speaks to something as important as our education system that uses proper scientific citing of bona fide papers on the subject as opposed to emotional arguments meant to sway voters or think-tank "papers" from thinly (or otherwise) veiled lobby groups whose intent is NOT the betterment of our educational system but rather the increase of funneling of tax-payer dollars away from socially responsible infrastructures (like education) and towards already wealthy private corporations.


Teacher

I strongly urge NYS to reconsider standardized testing practices.  If you look at the current brain research, you will find that there are many forms of intelligence.  Not all students learn at the same rate nor in the same manner.  A one day test should not determine whether or not a student is ""prepared for the future"".  We should be looking at the entire individual and to see if they are a well-rounded person.

I do not believe the citizens of NYS want their children to be tested so frequently and to have those tests weighed so heavily.  We are wasting too much money on these tests and now we are looking for different ways to correct those same tests.  These tests take away from real higher level learning.


PTA president

Our PTSA voted unanimously to support your recommendations. 


Professor

Teachers and administrators are placed in an impossible position by this policy.  They are forced to do what they know to be harmful to children or else suffer severe consequences.  It is a cynical policy that has sold out our children and public education in order to get a few dollars from the Feds through RTTT.  This policy is practically unworkable (every principal I've spoken with says it will make it impossible to do their jobs), and there is no evidence or research to support this approach to assessment.  This is especially absurd when the state declared this the policy before the agreed upon piloting was done. The people who are most in favor of this policy are people farthest from the classrooms.  It is a sham and a shame.


Parent

Not all children take tests the same way.  My daughter was never able to excel at standardized tests. The pressure always made her nervous and she rushed through them making careless mistakes. She excelled in the classroom, ended high school with a 3.92 GPA is is now happy and doing well in college. To think her teachers, who taught her well would have been given a bad evaluation based on her test schools is outrageous! 


Parent

The APPR is capricious and arbitrary and fails to examine every condition. There are students with terrible attendance problems.  There are students that have horrible home environments and couldn't care less about school.  There are learning disabled students for whom a Regents exam is virtually impossible to succeed on. There are students for whom English is not their native language.  The APPR is a broad brush and deals with a one-size fits all without taking into consideration these various learners. Perhaps we should find a way to better engage the parents who are not encouraging academic efforts before we point fingers at the teachers. Thank you. 


Principal

I sincerely believe that we can use our collective knowledge to develop a  tool to assess, effectively evaluate, and support educational professionals, if offered the opportunity.  We have so much coming at us at one time, I fear we will lose those educators who inspire because they feel overwhelmed or under-valued.  We need to have system thinkers help with the implementation, not a post to a website deliver information to staff developers.


NYC BOE member

As a parent of 3 and a parent elected school board member in Manhattan,  I applaud the cause and the courage of the principals and others to stand up to phony ""accountability"" standards and testing mania which is hurting our kids and schools. 


Teacher

I do support your paper, and I especially believe in points two and three.  I teach ESL and it's hard enough to get teachers to embrace having an English learning in their classroom without creating an APPR system that will punish them (and their ESL teacher to boot).  What my students see more of this year is drill and kill and remedial support than the rich, varied teaching of the past. 


Principal

There are many Principal's serving as both HS and MS or ES/MS/HS is our smaller districts across NYS.  The impact on this evaluation process is significant when you view it from our perspective.  What if we are rated as ineffective as a MS principal and effective as a HS principal?  Where is the fairness in the process when we deal with a moving target on an annual basis in Mathematics (HS/MS) and ELA (MS)?  How are they a valid measure when the school districts do not even know what is in store for their students.  I know it is a guessing game for all but when you are a small district like us, 2 students make a difference in the overall outcomes for the school.

"If we want to have top notch people entering the profession of teaching, we have to stop making teacher's the scapegoat with high-stakes testing.  There are many factors in a child's life that account for student performance on tests and in school in general that teachers and principals may not be able to "fix"."   


Principal

Teacher compassion and willingness to work with difficult students is not measured in these test results.  I hate to see the humanity of our profession end up as roadkill on the highway to APPR and chase for RTTT dollars.