Changes coming to how teachers are evaluated: What’s been proposed?

Originally published in Finger Lakes 1

The newly-elected President of New York State United Teachers, Melinda Person, has prioritized reforming the state’s teacher evaluation system. In recent years, this issue has been a bone of contention between the union and educational policymakers. However, given the signals from state education officials and lawmakers towards openness to further amendments, the conflict is not expected to be as severe.

The evaluation system, which heavily leaned on student test scores as a measure of teacher and classroom performance, had been a sore point for teachers. They argued that it inaccurately reflected learning and adversely impacted students. With the suspension of performance reviews during the pandemic and the subsequent focus on improving student performance in the face of school closures, there has been a move towards reducing dependence on testing as a key metric.

NYSUT is advocating for more local involvement in the evaluation process, which would allow more autonomy to local bargaining units. Democratic lawmakers, including State Senator John Mannion, are showing support for the union’s position, particularly in decreasing reliance on testing for grades 3-8. While teacher evaluations will continue, Mannion believes the current system has been ineffective and burdensome and does not wish to revert to heavy reliance on test scores.