OSWEGO, NY – School districts, including Oswego, are taking a different approach to professional evaluations.
Districts are required by the state to adopt the Annual Professional Performance Plan Review by Sept. 1. Oswego did so at its last board meeting.
“We’ve always had to do an annual performance evaluation. What they (the state) are pushing right now, what the legislation is saying, is that this is a step toward higher accountability for teachers and for principals,” according to Oswego Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist. “Student growth will be a portion of the ratings system. That has not been the case in most districts across the state.”
It’s new and as a result of that, the stakes become higher, because of the accountability that’s assigned, he added.
According to the Board of Regents it will improve student achievement and hold everyone a little bit more accountable for what goes on in the school district.
The review of the core curriculum and looking at what New York State will expect students to know and be able to do upon graduation is also being reviewed and shored up a little bit, made a bit more rigorous, Crist said.
“The state is requiring districts to say essentially that we have buy-in to this; that we’re moving forward with this, that our plans are we’ll get this up and running and share what we’re doing with the public and have it on file when it’s completed for the public’s to review,” he told Oswego County Today. “What it doesn’t mean, however, is that the public would have access to a teacher’s personnel file.”
But it does mean there are expectations at the state level that each school district will be required to validate the progress, the growth that students are making in individual school districts.
“The state wanted it done by Sept. 1. But there are a lot of things factored in here. One of which is, because there is a new evaluation system, there is a need to agree to what the evaluation system is going to look like. Then there is an expectation to be able to train the people who are going to be evaluating so that they understand what to look for,” the superintendent explained. “And then also to look at whether there are needs for improvement plans or any other thing related to that and what is the appeals process if there is a bad evaluation, something someone might not agree with?”
“Will the bargaining units have any say in this? Will it affect their contract at all?” asked board member Sam Tripp.
“Yes, they will. There are certain aspects of the APPPR that we will need to negotiate (with both unions). Part of those decisions, not all of them, have to be negotiated with the teachers and with the administrators. This resolution is just getting the ball rolling. It’s going to be quite a lengthy process. This is just the first step,” Crist replied. “So, there is work to be done. I don’t think anyone would argue that we don’t want students to perform better. There is some debate out there as to whether this particular model that includes a percentage of the evaluation based on student growth – on state exams and local assessments is a silver bullet. So, we will see. It is going to be an interesting year, couple years, actually.”