A Letter To The Regents Chancellor

I sent a letter to Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch today, in conjunction with several assembly colleagues, regarding the APPR. Here it is:

December 1, 2015

Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch
Members of the Board of Regents
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234

Dear Chancellor Tisch and Members of the Board of Regents:

We were encouraged that, at their September meeting, the Regents directed the Commissioner to issue a statement outlining concerns expressing their willingness to make significant changes to APPR. Also, we applaud the Chancellor’s statement to POLITICO (made at the NYSSBA convention last month) that the Regents, working with SED, will lay out a set of legislative proposals based on a review of the standards, testing and evaluations. Your acknowledgement that APPR is not working reflects the long standing sentiment of our superintendents, administrators, teachers and parents.

In passing 3012-d last spring, the Legislature believed that it was giving the Regents the time (until September, 2016) and resources needed to fix APPR. It is now abundantly clear that the Legislature and the Regents differed in their interpretation of the law especially with respect to deadlines and a broader use of multiple measures of student learning.

Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch

Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch

Moreover, we differed with regard to the creation and role of a task force. It has now become apparent that we need to take the time necessary to provide a thoughtful, thoroughly vetted APPR. To do this properly, we believe you must convene a task force of qualified practitioners and independent experts in the field of psychometrics and/or teacher evaluation to design an evaluation system that is research based, aligned with the learning standards, utilizes multiple measures of student learning over time and locally selected measures of student achievement or growth. In fact, creating this task force is even more important now that, as recently reported in the NY Times, the House and Senate approved a compromise framework for a new No Child Left Behind law, that “would let states decide whether or how to use students’ performance on tests to assess teachers, students and schools – ending federal efforts to tie those scores to teacher evaluations.”

If you believe that changing APPR requires legislative action, we respectfully request that the Regents direct SED to submit a departmental bill to the legislature to begin the process. This legislation could be as broad as authorizing a redesign of APPR, as narrow as imposing a moratorium to give SED the time needed to fix the system, or, it could propose that specific elements of the current law be nullified. As New York State’s governing body for education, the Legislature needs to hear from you as to what is needed to create a viable, sustainable teacher/principal evaluation system.

Also, in order to ensure that the process is proceeding in a timely manner and, as we will soon be receiving recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on the entirety of Common Core, we would appreciate your giving us your legislative proposal(s) at the start of the legislative session so we can take the necessary legislative action.

We hope you will take our recommendations in the spirit with which they are offered, namely, a determination to support teachers’ professional development and provide our students with the best possible education. Together we believe we can make NYS a leader in teacher evaluation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Members of the Assembly

Fred Thiele 1st A.D.
Charles Lavine 13th A.D.
Michelle Schimel 16th A.D.
Todd Kaminsky 20th A.D.
Amy Paulin 88th A.D.
Thomas Abinanti 90th A.D.
David Buchwald 93rd A.D.
Sandy Galef 95th A.D.
Kenneth Zebrowski 96th A.D.
Ellen Jaffee 97th A.D.
Aileen Gunther 100th A.D.
Frank Skartados 104th A.D.

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