New York State School Boards Association

SED plans to release APPR statistics

by Eric Randall

On Board Online • October 14, 2013

By Eric D. Randall

1aBefore the end of the year, anyone will be able to go online and find lots of information about teacher and principal evaluations in school districts and individual schools in New York State – but nothing personally identifiable, according to the State Education Department (SED).

In accordance with state law on Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plans, SED plans to create a resource on its website so people can answer questions such as:

  • What percentage of teachers in my son’s school or district have composite  ratings of Highly Effective, Effective, Developing and Ineffective?
  • How does the distribution of these “HEDI” scores compare between neighboring school districts, between school districts of high and low poverty, and between different regions of the state?

Beginning next year, visitors to SED’s website will be able to determine the percentage of teachers in a given district who moved to a higher rating category from a lower one, or vice versa.

Local districts will be responsible for other APPR disclosures. By law, parents and guardians will be able to obtain the HEDI ratings and composite scores (which range from 0 to 100) for each of their child’s teachers by requesting the information directly from local school districts (see story). The SED website will not host such information, according to SED spokesman Jonathan Burman.

“We will not release any individual results for any teacher or principal,” Burman said. “We will release aggregated data that says, for example, ‘of teachers in County A, 12 percent were highly effective, 66 percent were effective, etc.’”

NYSSBA General Counsel Jay Worona, along with representatives of New York State United Teachers and the state Association of School Superintendents, recently met with SED officials to express concern about the department’s announced plans to provide breakdowns by school building, class, subject and grade.

“We are concerned that it would be possible, in some instances, that ‘granular’ or narrow breakdowns of data could personally identify some educators, in violation of the law,” Worona said. “We asked SED to only release data in aggregate form to avoid that issue.”

Another controversial aspect of the plan is SED’s intention to release data on subcomponent scores – including the 20 percent of each teacher and principal rating that is tied to student performance on state assessments. “Consistent with the law, we will release … subcomponent ratings and scores, including state-provided growth scores,” Burman said, adding that none of this data will be “personally identifiable information for any teacher or principal.”

So, users of SED’s website will be able to find out what percentage of teachers in a given district received ratings of “Ineffective” or “Developing” on the so-called “state portion” of their evaluation, which is based on student test performance, as well as the percentage that received those ratings for their overall “composite” scores.

Composite scores are composed of state-measured growth (20 percent), locally-measured growth (20 percent) and other locally developed measures such as classroom observations (60 percent).

“People might say the 20 percent based on state test scores is objective, and focus on that data,” said NYSSBA President Thomas Nespeca, a member of the Webster school board. “I hope people will focus on the composite scores that everyone has worked hard to develop. We all know there is more to being a good teacher or principal than just student performance on tests.”

All  school districts and BOCES are required to provide teacher and principal evaluation data to SED by Oct. 18. In accordance with state law, districts and BOCES that fail to provide the data can be denied their state aid increases.

“As soon as the website goes live, newspapers probably will be running special sections that slice and dice the data,” predicted NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. “We are going to be swimming in data.”

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