Districts miss teacher evaluation deadline – 7/3/12

Many districts miss teacher evaluation deadline, risk aid

ALBANY — Fewer than a quarter of the state’s school districts met a July 1 deadline to submit teacher and principal evaluation agreements to the state Department of Education, as required by an amended law passed this year.

Of New York’s roughly 700 districts, 164 had submitted proposals by noon Monday, the state Education Department said. There is no immediate penalty for districts that missed the deadline.

But if their plans don’t receive education department approval by mid-January 2013, they would lose a scheduled increase in state aid, education officials said.

School officials said the process for negotiating the language of the proposals with local unions is complex. So to expect all of the districts to meet the deadline would have been unrealistic, the officials said.

“This is a sea change in education,” state education Commissioner John King said Monday. “It’s not just about an increase in education aid. We’re trying to improve teaching and learning in every school across the state.”

Education department spokesperson Dennis Tompkins said the agency is encouraging districts to submit their plans by the start of school this fall. He said it would benefit teachers and principals to know how they’re being evaluated before the school begins.

Robert Lowry, deputy director of the state Council of School Superintendents, said he has advised districts that couldn’t meet the July 1 deadline to get their submissions in by mid-October or they might not have enough time to get approval by January.

And should a district’s agreements not meet state standards, “you would want to have time to go back to the drawing board,” he said.

Lowry said he had expected a lower number of districts to comply by July 1.

“It’s not as though districts have had a ton of time in which to make sense of the requirements and then negotiate changes in procedures with their local unions,” Lowry said.

He said the state didn’t make it easier on districts, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo making changes to the law in February. Those weren’t approved by the Legislature until March. Then, the education department needed to adopt regulations and provide guidance to the districts.

“Even if a district and the local union have a clear sense of what they wanted to do, what would work best in their district, they had to wait and see what was going to happen in Albany,” he said. “That slowed down the process.”

Read More