Medina Journal-Register — The soft deadline for New York State school districts to submit teacher and administrator evaluation plans passed this week with only 164 districts submitting their proposals for review, the State Education Department announced Monday.
The agreements between districts and their teaching staffs and building principals are mandated under a law passed earlier this year. Schools will have until Jan. 17 to have their plan approved by the state — if not, they stand to lose state funding aid that helped balance budgets this year.
Lyndonville was the only Orleans County district to submit its plan early, doing so on Thursday of last week.
Superintendent Jason Smith said the process went smoothly thanks to the contributions of the school’s teachers and principals. He hopes to have the plan in place before the start of the next school year, as all districts are preparing to wait six to eight weeks for the state’s review.
”We hope to have the state’s feedback before September,” Smith said. “We’re looking at incorporating it into our August training days.”
The new plans can incorporate state standardized testing, local student exams, classroom techniques and other locally-established measures. Districts are using a new online portal to submit their proposals that uses open-ended questions in determining the plan’s strengths and weaknesses.
In Medina, Superintendent Jeff Evoy said last month that the district had completed about a third of the necessary submissions. He hopes to have the district’s plan submitted shortly after school resumes in the fall.
“We’re looking at September so that teachers review and approve the plan,” Evoy said.
Medina’s draft plans for both teachers and administrators have been given to the unions for both groups. The plans needed to be signed off on by district administrators, their school boards and both sets of employees.
State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said that while the deadline for submitting evaluation agreements was July 1, he recognized the complexity of the negotiations.
“This is a sea change in education,” Commissioner King said. “It’s not just about an increase in education aid. We’re trying to improve teaching and learning in every school across the state. The goal is to make sure every student graduates from high school with the skills needed to succeed in college and careers. Fair, accurate evaluations are an important step to help educators help our students meet that goal.”
In Albion, a committee that includes teachers and building administrators is working on the district’s plan. Superintendent Michael Bonnewell said the evaluation changes create an opportunity to improve the school.
“It gives us a chance to re-evaluate what we do and add new practices,” Bonnewell said. “But we need to make sure we don’t lose what’s unique to Albion. We’re fitting service learning into our evaluation.”