Superintendent Anthony Annunziato. File photo
August 01, 2012 | 06:01 PMThe Smithtown Board of Education voted unanimously to approve its Annual Professional Performance Review agreement with the Smithtown Teachers Association almost three weeks after the state deadline of July 1.
In 2010, the state Legislature passed a law that requires school districts to base some of their teacher evaluations on student test scores. Gov. Andrew Cuomo requires districts to submit their APPR plans by the beginning of July. If their plans are not in operation by mid-January, districts could risk losing state aid.
In an email, new Superintendent Anthony Annunziato said he isn't worried about filing the APPR plan late because the district plans on implementing it this September, which would prevent it from losing state aid.
In a phone interview on Tuesday, Laura Spencer, the STA's new president, added that both the district and the STA wanted to submit the agreement to the state as soon as possible to avoid any problems.
"The district and the STA have worked diligently for the last year-and-a-half with a committee of administrators and teachers," Spencer said in a phone interview. "We wanted to get this to the state as soon as possible because we didn't want to risk losing state aid. We felt it was important to have an evaluation system that would enhance instruction to benefit our students."
The new APPR plan requires districts to evaluate teachers and administrators based on a 100-point scale. Twenty percent of Smithtown's formula for scoring a teacher's performance is based on student growth as measured by state tests, another 20 percent is taken from local exams and/or student learning objectives and the remaining 60 percent from traditional evaluations. Trained district evaluators — administrators — will conduct at least two formal classroom observations, one announced and one unannounced.
The evaluators will then give the teachers a score based on this formula. Depending on the score, teachers could receive one of four ratings: highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective.
If a teacher receives an ineffective rating, they will be placed on a teacher improvement plan. After two ineffective ratings, the district can hold a disciplinary hearing, in which the district would decide whether to fire the teacher. A fired teacher does have the opportunity to appeal the decision.
APPR was designed to hold teachers, administrators and principals accountable for student achievement. However, because this regulation is new, both the district and the STA are unsure of the benefits.
"While the district's APPR committee has done an outstanding job in creating the APPR plan, with such a complex evaluation system, we are unsure of its benefits or possible unintended consequences," Annunziato wrote in an email. APPR is a work in progress that must be revised regularly to ensure its efficacy."
Spencer agreed with Annunziato, saying it's too early to tell how the APPR plan will benefit students, but she said the STA is happy with the agreement it has made with the district.
"The teachers are hopeful that this new evaluation system will enhance instruction and benefit the kids. We haven't implemented it yet, so we are looking forward to the implementation phase," she said. "We have the plan, so we will see what the results are in June."