On Feb. 16, thanks to Governor Cuomo’s intervention, the UFT reached a groundbreaking agreement with the city on an appeals process for New York City teacher ratings that includes the third-party, independent validation of teacher ratings that the union insisted upon to ensure fairness. Today’s New York Times editorial calls it a “sound deal.”
Read on for highlights and details.
Highlights of the agreement
- For the first time, there will be an independent panel to review teacher ratings that the UFT believes are based on principal harassment, not job performance.
- There will now be an independent validator to observe and work with all teachers who are rated ineffective.
- Each teacher rated ineffective will have a teacher improvement plan designed to specifically pinpoint that teacher’s deficiencies and how they will be helped to overcome their weaknesses.
For the past 10 years under this administration, 99.6 percent of all teacher ratings have been sustained by the chancellor. This agreement on the appeals process certifies that the union will have a much fairer evaluation and appeals system for teachers if the UFT and the city ever get to an overall agreement. The union aims to negotiate an evaluation system that is designed first and foremost to help teachers get better throughout their careers, applies targeted support for those who are struggling, identifies teachers who cannot be effective to do the tough job of teaching in New York City and does all of this fairly. The agreement today ensures that the overall agreement will be fair.
Details of the new evaluation appeals process
- A teacher who receives a first ineffective rating has a right to appeal that rating to the chancellor, who will have the final say, unless the rating is chosen by the union and designated for the independent panel appeal.
- The union can identify up to 13 percent of all ineffective ratings each year to challenge on grounds of harassment or other matters not related to performance.
- These appeals will each be heard by a panel made up of one person chosen by the UFT, one chosen by the DOE, and a third independent person who will be the chair of the panel.
- If the panel disagrees with the principal’s rating, then the teacher will no longer have an ineffective rating.
- If the panel agrees with the principal’s rating, the ineffective rating stands.
- A teacher who has an ineffective rating the following year will receive an independent validator. (The person is chosen through a joint process and will not be a UFT or DOE employee.) The independent evaluator will observe the teacher at least three times during the school year and issue a report with his or her rating of the teacher.
- If the independent validator does not agree that the teacher is ineffective, then the DOE may bring 3020a charges but it will have to bear the burden of proving its case and the validator’s report will be part of the evidence.
- If the validator agrees with the rating of the principal, then the DOE will have a right to start 3020a proceedings where the burden of proof now falls on the teacher to prove that he or she is not ineffective.