Thursday, May 28, 2015
Letter from PS343 Teachers & Staff
Dear Peck Slip Families,
It is with deep concern that the teachers of Peck Slip School are reaching out to ask for your help
Governor Cuomo has proposed drastic and unproductive changes to teacher evaluations as part of his proposed budget to be voted on April 1, 2015. We would like to share what these changes are and how they can impact our school and our profession. The current proposals are:
50% of a teacher’s rating would be based on state test scores. (Currently it is 20%)
35% of a teacher’s rating would be based on the findings of an outside independent observer, who will conduct a one-time visit to the classroom. (This would be a first time for this. We do not know who or what the quality of these observers will be.)
15% of a teacher’s rating would be based on observations by the principal. (This means Maggie would have the least input on each teacher’s overall rating).
50% + 35%= 85% of a teacher’s evaluation would now be in the hands of the state and not our school community.
With this proposal, any teacher who is rated ineffective two years in row could be fired. Maggie might not have a say in this decision.
We are also deeply concerned by the way in which ratings are derived from test scores. Ratings are not based on students’ raw scores for the year but whether students improve from one year to the next. According to the proposed system if a third grader who gets a score of 3 (meeting grade standards) gets a 3 in fourth grade but gets one fewer question correct, that student may not have demonstrated the ‘added value’ that the teacher was supposed to have instilled, even though the student mastered that grade’s content. This could seriously affect the teacher’s rating and place the teacher in the lowest percentile. Furthermore, we are concerned about how teachers who are not in testing grades will be rated. This includes prekindergarten through second grade teachers and specialty teachers such as art, physical education, and music teachers.
The unintended result would be pressure to impose more and more test prep on our children. We know that teaching to the test robs our curriculum of depth and richness. Faced with the possibility of the loss of our livelihood, as well as the loss of careers that we love, these new proposals could push us to teach in ways we consider to be counter-productive. If the Governor’s proposal goes through, schools will have to narrow their curriculum to some extent.
This is heartbreaking to us. We are building a creative, rigorous, and collaborative learning community. Our school exudes a joyful, enthusiastic tone. The mission of the Peck Slip School is to educate our children to be passionate about learning, curious about others and the world, and committed to community engagement. Our intention is to develop the whole child through many entries into the life of school. Test scores do not tell the whole story about our children. Test taking is a skill that we can teach. It is not the core of our curriculum, and does not reflect the different ways that children learn and grow in their school environment. The school year is 180 days and learning happens on all of those school days. It is not right for 50% of a teacher evaluation to be based on six days of state tests. We pride ourselves on teaching long-term studies and seeing children truly enjoy learning.
We urgently need you to let your legislators know that you disagree with this plan. Here is how you can help:
1. Email Governor Cuomo right now at email@example.com
2. Contact your assembly member. Go to http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem to find their contact information.
Post this issue on Facebook and tell your friends. Use social media to spread the word. Make whatever noise you can.
Thank you, as always, for your support, your energy and for your wonderful, unique children.
Peck Slip School Teachers & Staff