Widget Effect: Confirmed

The Widget Effect was published in 2009 and it described the state of teacher evaluation. It identified that, using the evaluation systems used in the United States at that time, all teachers were satisfactory (less than 1% were rated unsatisfactory). The report also concluded that truly excellent teaching went unrecognized, that professional development was not connected to evaluations, and that poor performance was not addressed. Despite the overwhelmingly positive rating that teachers were receiving, 57% of teachers and 81% of administrators reported that there were poor teachers in their school. These findings pointed, we were told, toward the need for a new system of teacher evaluation. Results similar to the findings of the report were published for New York and discussed in Continue reading

Elementary School Departmentalization

Although quantitative data are not readily available, there is anecdotal evidence that departmentalization in elementary schools is on the rise (Gewertz, 2014). Similarly, there’s not a great deal of research available about the practice. There are articles that list advantages and disadvantages and there are some survey data about teacher satisfaction, but an examination of the practice and student learning was lacking.

A recent study, however, shed some light on the issue. An economist studied the issue of departmentalization from an economic specialization perspective. Traditionally, specialization brings Continue reading

APPR “Help” that Actually Helps

At their June meeting, the Board of Regents approved another change to the §3012-d APPR regulations. This time, they expanded conditions for a waiver to the independent evaluator requirement.

Since the fall, a waiver has been available to smaller, more rural districts who could meet certain size of number of building requirements. The waiver had no impact on the required number of minimum observations, it just waived the requirement that an independent observer (someone from a different BEDS code) had to do an observation in addition to the observations that the Lead Evaluator conducted. Continue reading


Beginning in the spring of 2017, NYSED will create committees comprised of stakeholders, practitioners, and experts in the field to provide recommendations on assessments and evaluations that could be used for evaluations in the future. Committees organized by topic area will review all important components currently and potentially in teacher/principal evaluations including the current landscape of options being employed nationally as well as review the existing structure of the NYS evaluation system. A proposal for an evaluation system will be brought to the Board in the spring of 2018 for 2019-2020 implementation.

If we could create a system for teacher and leader evaluation from scratch, what would it include? The Aspen Institute presented a whitepaper to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) with their recommendations: Continue reading

Being Deliberate about Instructional Leadership

It’s easy to say that instructional leadership is important for educational leaders; it’s far more difficult to actually do it. Sure, the literature about effective educational leadership consistently promotes its importance. So, too, do the NCATE and ISLLC Standards emphasize instructional leadership. In fact, the ISLLC 2008 Standards display Standard 2 (Leadership for Teaching & Learning), at the center of the six-standard framework indicating its importance and centrality to effective leadership (Council of Chief State School Officers, 2008). Research clearly shows that principals of effective schools emphasize instructional leadership (Jenkins, 2009). Cotton points to hundreds of research studies that place effective principals at the center of instruction in their school (2003). Continue reading

Being Clear about the Common Core, Clarified

Note: This is a revised and updated version of a previous post. The gist of the article remains the same. Information about standards revisions and transitions has been updated.

The Common Core State Learning Standards are standards. Not curriculum. Not tests. Not evaluation. Standards.

Standards are the “to do” list for learning. They are a list of the things we want students to know, understand, be able to do, and be like. In 1996, New York State issued a complete set of standards for all subject areas and grade levels. There were twenty-three sets of standards that were organized into seven bundles. For example, math, science, and technology were grouped together in a bundle of seven standards (and the accompanying detail). Similarly, Health, Physical Education and Family and Consumer Science were bundled together. Continue reading

APPR Transition

The Board of Regents just confirmed the “transition” amendments to the Annual professional Performance Review (APPR) System.

What does this mean? Most of all, it is important to note that all districts must still complete their APPR plan as approved, whether a §3012-c or §3012-d plan. The emergency changes to the APPR regulations mean that for some people (those connected to 3-8 state assessments and state-provided growth scores) districts will also provide a transition score. Continue reading