Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Contrasting Sept. 20 2011 Mulgrew, Walcott Statements on Teacher Evaluations; 3012c Law; & 10/19/11 UFT Complaint

Below are statements from today, September 20, 2011, from United Federation of Teacher Michael Mulgrew and New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott regarding teacher evaluations.
These statements do not address the rumor in some districts that formal observations are to begin this week.
The joint letter raises the new New York State Education Law on teacher evaluation, 3012-c. The union and the teacher activist community need to study, discuss and address this law more openly and thoroughly.
Notice that the second letter is a joint letter signed by Mulgrew, Walcott and Ernest Logan, President, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators. In the Mulgrew letter there is praise for the work of Charlotte Danielson, a writer on teacher evaluation. Mulgrew underscores a professional respect element in Danielson's guidelines, and he adds a request that District Representatives be informed if these aspects are not followed. In the M/W/L letter there is a clear departure from giving too much weight to evaluations stemming from Danielson's thinking. I have italicized the contrasting statements on Danielson's thinking in the two letters.
Dear Chapter Leader,

I am sharing with you, below, a joint letter from Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators President Ernest Logan and myself that is going out this afternoon to all principals in the Principals’ Weekly. It comes in response to the concerns and misconceptions we are hearing in the field about teacher evaluations and observations.

There is no new teacher evaluation process, and there will not be one until we can successfully negotiate one with the DOE. I do not know when that will happen.

The only schools using a different system are the Restart and Transformation schools, under an agreement that was made to ensure those buildings remain open.

There are also 110 schools piloting tools like Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, to help administrators and teachers focus on instruction during the observation process. Please note that our contractual evaluation process remains in place in those pilot schools.

Charlotte Danielson’s lifelong work is based first and foremost on the fact that a school must have a professional, respectful culture where any instructional issues can be discussed in a safe and supportive environment. If discussions about Danielson’s framework in your school are not starting from that premise, please contact your district representative.

Remember: real educational improvements can only be accomplished by supporting teachers and their work in the classroom.

Michael Mulgrew

Sept. 20, 2011

Dear Colleagues,

Congratulations, once again, for a successful opening to the 2011-12 school year. We thank you for your dedication to raising the bar and creating robust learning experiences for our students, teachers, and staff.

As we work to ensure all New York City students graduate ready for college and careers, we must remain focused on strengthening student work and teacher practice. We want to clarify how this impacts your day-to-day work with teachers and administrators, particularly given New York State Education Law 3012-c, passed in May 2010, establishing a new framework for teacher and principal evaluation.

This new 3012-c framework will not take effect city-wide for teachers and principals until DOE reaches agreements with UFT and CSA, respectively, on its implementation. The only exception to this timeframe is in SIG funded Transformation and Restart schools.

The NYCDOE's instructional expectations recommend that principals/assistant principals engage in more cycles of classroom observation and feedback using a rubric that articulates clear expectations for teacher practice. Our goal is to help develop a supportive and professional dialogue that will help both administrator and teacher enhance instruction for the students of our schools. We hope that this will lay the foundation for the work ahead by practicing this feedback cycle with a rubric. That said, the current model of observation and evaluation of teacher performance remains in place and does not change the number of observations currently required under the UFT contract.

At this time, a research-based teaching framework, like Danielson's Framework for Teaching, should only be used for formative support of teachers. It should not be used for teacher evaluations.

Effectively adopting a research-based teaching framework helps to set clear expectations, so that teachers and administrators know what effective teaching looks like and have a shared language to discuss what is working and what needs to be improved. By having a continual dialogue about instructional practices, no matter where they fall on the performance spectrum, we will be able to develop stronger instructional practices which will benefit all of our children.

We applaud your hard work and dedication to our shared goals for this school year and beyond.


Dennis M. Walcott, Chancellor, NYC Department of Education
Michael Mulgrew, President, United Federation of Teachers
Ernest Logan, President, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators

Note the weakening stance: compare the 2013 UFT endorsement of the 6/1/13 imposed evaluation system with snap drive-by observations and no face-to-face post-observation to this 2011 UFT statement of complaint. Note in particular the misuses cited in the latter half of the WHEREAS statements. --7/22/13
Teacher evaluation and the Danielson Framework for Teaching
October 19, 2011

WHEREAS the historic system for the evaluation of teachers in the New York City public schools is broken, as it lacks a clear and comprehensive set of standards for what constitutes effective teaching and it fails to provide teachers with meaningful feedback on their practice and opportunities for professional growth and development; and

WHEREAS in May 2010 the UFT and our state affiliate NYSUT reached an agreement with Regents’ Chancellor Tisch and New York State Commissioner of Education Steiner on the parameters of a new teacher evaluation system, and this agreement became the basis for a law which was passed by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor; and

WHEREAS this law established a framework for a new teacher evaluation system, but required that the full scope of the system be negotiated between local school districts and teacher unions; and

WHEREAS the UFT and the New York City Department of Education have negotiated aspects of the new teacher evaluation system as part of an agreement for Transformation and Restart schools in the School Improvement program, most of the new evaluation system remains to be negotiated; and

WHEREAS in our negotiations with the NYC DOE for Transformation and Restart Schools, the UFT advocated for the use of the Danielson Framework for Teaching with the portion of the new evaluation system that assesses teaching effectiveness, as it brought together the best professional work on the different components of effective teaching and drew upon the important work teacher unions have done in this area with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; and

WHEREAS the Danielson Framework is based on core principles that reflect our own vision of a good evaluation system:
that evaluation must be centered on professional learning and professional growth,
that for a good system of evaluation to take root, schools must build cultures of professional inquiry which encourage self-reflection and promote rich conversations about teaching practice, and
that a good system of evaluation requires, as its foundation, a school environment of trust and collaboration among all educators; and

WHEREAS on September 20th, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, CSA President Ernie Logan and Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott sent a joint letter to all NYC public schools which explained that, until the full evaluation system was negotiated by the UFT and the DOE, no part of it — including the Danielson Framework — should be used in the evaluation of teachers1; and

WHEREAS this joint letter prohibits the use of the four point rating system — highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective — in the new law until the full system of evaluation is negotiated; and

WHEREAS this joint letter was clear in its instructions that until the full evaluation system is negotiated, the Danielson Framework should only be used for formative, professional development purposes, that is, to guide conversations on teaching practice, to develop the skills of clinical observation that focuses on evidence, and to practice written reports which are not part of official personnel files; and

WHEREAS it is essential for the integrity of the Danielson Framework that its implementation not be done in an arbitrary and capricious fashion, different from school to school depending on the whim of supervisors, and without fidelity to the core principles of professional inquiry, professional growth and development, collaboration and trust that define a good evaluation system; and

WHEREAS despite the joint letter and its clear instructions, there are schools where supervisors continue to use four point rating system in lesson observations and misuse the Danielson Framework, employing it for evaluative purposes in a ‘gotcha’ method of observations — in effect, establishing rogue systems of evaluation for their own schools; and

WHEREAS it is important that supervisors observe teaching in their school, there is no constructive educational purpose served by observation regimens that involve scores of ‘informal observations’ a week, lasting a few minutes at most and providing no meaningful feedback on teaching practice to teachers; and be it therefore

RESOLVED that the United Federation of Teachers [UFT] affirm our commitment to the development of a teacher evaluation system based on principles of professional inquiry, professional growth and development, collaboration and trust; and be it further

RESOLVED that the UFT calls upon the NYC Department of Education to enforce the clear directions of the joint Mulgrew-Logan-Walcott letter, directing supervisors to immediately cease and desist from the misuse of features of the new evaluation system until the entire system of evaluation is negotiated with the UFT; and be it further

RESOLVED that the UFT defend the integrity of the Danielson Framework of Teaching using all contractual, legal and other means at our disposal to stop its misuse in schools where supervisors are engaged in rogue evaluations that violate our members’ rights.

1 In Transformation and Restart schools only, those aspects of the new evaluation system specifically mentioned in the agreement for those schools, including the Danielson framework, may be used.
Read more: Union resolutions
Related topics: evaluation