My last post was about the disheartening comparison of teacher evaluation scores from district to district. The incredibly wide range of scores that the exact same teacher would get in different districts threatens to undermine any credibility in the system at all. Our system and our APPR plans need to be upgraded to APPR 2.0.
Our governor and legislature have decided, through the budget process (which I certainly don’t understand), to avoid the question of whether Triborough applies to Annual Professional Performance (APPR) by deciding that existing APPR plans remain in effect until replaced by a new, approved plan. Is this good news, or bad news? Or, is it both bad and good?
If APPR plans remain in place we don’t have to go through all the drama of state aid and deadlines and losing state aid when a district does not have an approved APPR plan. Less drama is a good thing; we’ve already got plenty of it with the 3-8 testing and the “opt-out” spectacle. If there is no deadline for submitting new plans, however, the pressure to revise APPR plans is lessened. There’s no “third point” to push districts and their bargaining units toward a new plan. They can just leave the old one in place. Leaving the old one in place is not necessarily a bad thing, except for the fact that the APPR plans we have in place now are our first attempt in the new system. I do not know of a single district that thinks they got it perfect with their first plan and has nothing to improve. So, we feel the tension (as always) between the status quo and continuous improvement.
The plans that districts have in place are not perfect. Our decisions about SLOs, LATs, 3rd party assessments, number of extended evaluations, number of mini-observations, paperwork requirements, 60pt conversions, appeals process, and many other parts of APPR plans need to be revisited. This was, after all, our first attempt! We can do better! Without the expectation and deadline for new plans, however, the pressure to meet to revisit plans (and ultimately resubmit) is missing. It is quite possible that because of the complexities of labor relations, unknowns about growth scores, and a general unease about the regulations that the process of revising plans will not be much easier than making our initial plans in the first place.
The status quo is made more tempting by the State’s approval process for APPR plans. All too often there was conflicting advice from SED about details of plans and what can be approved. Districts who had to resubmit during the year because a substantive change had to be approved actually got feedback that conflicted with their previously approved plan, and this makes districts quite nervous about submitting new plans. Districts are worried that parts of plans they previously thought were OK and had been approved might now be rejected. Yikes! What to do?
I think our plans need to be improved; I hope the process supports that. Do we have the will?
What do you think? Is your district going to revisit your APPR plan or will the status quo prevail?