School officials in the Kingston City School District recently discussed their staff evaluation system, which is partially delineated by New York State Education law.
Principals and classroom teachers are subject to the performance-based Education Law 3012-d, designed to measure effectiveness including the ability to meet state standards, as well as student achievement. The four level rating categories — highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective — are considered during annual professional performance reviews (APPR), and are a “significant factor” in employment decisions, including promotion, retention, tenure determination, and termination. An APPR can also influence the direction of an educator’s professional development.
Included in 3012-d are RTI (response to intervention) teachers, consulting teachers, resource room teachers, reading teachers, and librarians.
“There are certain people who work who are members of our teachers’ union and who are certified as teachers in New York but they aren’t subject to 3012-d,” said Superintendent Paul Padalino during a meeting of the Board of Education held on Wednesday, March 2. “For example, guidance counselors, school psychologists, instructional coaches; they are not subject to 3012-d.”
The district has 29 trained and board approved lead evaluators who undergo a BOCES-assisted annual calibration training regimen to ensure consistency in reviews. They are then required to pass an assessment program on Teachscape.
“No matter who walks into a teacher’s classroom, whether it’s a principal from one school or a principal from another, they’re looking for the same things,” Padalino said. “They know how to use the rubric, and when they come out of that evaluation, they should look pretty much the same if we are calibrated.”
Padalino added that Teachscape is a digital platform that gives evaluators an opportunity to evaluate a hypothetical teaching situation. The superintendent said he’d gone through Teachscape before.
“I like to pass it, and it’s hard,” Padalino said. “It is a really interesting way to look at a classroom and get the feedback that you really need to make sure you’re using the rubric consistently and using it properly.”
Teachers are evaluated using the Danielson model, which consists of four domains: planning and preparation, the classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities.
Teachers can be evaluated by trained principals, assistant and vice-principals, directors and assistant directors.
The evaluations differ for tenured and non-tenured teachers. Non-tenured teachers are subject to one unannounced and two announced observations each school year, with a pre- and post-evaluation meeting with the lead evaluator required each time. Tenured teachers undergo one announced and one unannounced evaluation, with a meeting optional if the teacher was marked as effective or highly effective in the previous school year.
Principals are evaluated by assistant superintendents through the district’s central office using the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium’s (ISLLC) Multidimensional Principal Performance Rubric, a two-part system which supports and assesses principals’ attainment of ISLLC standards; and supports and assesses principals in setting and attaining professional and school improvement goals.
As with teachers, tenured and non-tenured principals are evaluated differently, with the former receiving one announced and one unannounced visit; and the latter one unannounced and two announced observations.
Some aspects of 3012-d are able to be negotiated by teacher and principal bargaining units, Padalino said.
Board of Education Trustee Robin Jacobowitz said the process has evolved since it was initially introduced. “I remember years ago when this first rolled out and how confusing and complicated it was,” she said. “And it seems like there have been good structures and systems that have been developed around it to make it doable.
Staff members not subject to a 3012-d evaluation are covered in other ways. Central office administrators are evaluated using standards established by the ISLLC; the Deputy Superintendent is also evaluated using an Association of School Business Officials of New York rubric. Many other employees are evaluated by their direct supervisors or lead evaluators.
There are also less formal evaluation processes in some schools, and Padalino said that’s a good thing. “One of the things I’ve been very impressed with at J. Watson Bailey Middle School is the peer observations that they’re doing,” he said. “To me, that’s the Ferrari of evaluation and observation…That would be more productive than how we’re doing it now.”