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State Approves Fulton Schools’ Plan to Assess Teachers and Administrators

The Fulton City School District’s plan for assessing the quality of teachers and administrators has finally won approval from the New York State Education Department.

Each district in the state must come up with its own plan (called an APPR), negotiated with its unions, for grading teachers and administrators.

Over time, teachers and administrators who score below certain levels could be targeted for firing.

The assessment is based on three elements:  student improvement during the course of a year, an in-person observation of teachers by their principals or of administrators by other administrators, and a locally-created measure of student performance.

The locally-created measure accounts for only 20% of the score for a teacher or administrator, but it was the element that took far and away the most work to come up with. The administration and unions eventually agreed to this:

  • Elementary school teachers and principals in all grades will receive a score based on the performance of students in grades 4 – 6 on the English Language Arts and math exams, and the 4th grade science exam;
  • 7th and 8th grade teachers and the principal at Fulton Jr. High will receive a score based on student scores on the English Language Arts and Math exams for both grades and the 8th grade science exam;
  • High school teachers and the administrators at the high school will receive a score based on the June Regents for ELA, history, algebra and biology.

The agreement covers only this school year.  Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch said talks are already underway with the unions for an agreement for next year.  He said the idea is to test drive this year’s agreement and see where any problems might lie.

Fulton might have had its plan done earlier, but for a late decision by the state to force Fulton to change one element that it had already told the district was okay.

Lynch noted that this year’s state exams are going to be very different because they will be based on new standards, called the Common Core.  He said the tests will likely be much harder than last year’s exams.

He noted that in Kentucky, test scores dropped 30% the first year they were based on the Common Core.

“If (teachers and administrators) are paying attention, they should be a little uncomfortable, which is unfair,” Lynch said.