Friday, September 4, 2015

A Letter to Regents Catherine Collins re: Teacher/Principal APPR and High Stakes Testing

Regent Catherine Collins, PhD

Dear Regent Collins:

I am writing to thank you for your previous no vote and to urge you to stay the course as the Board of Regents convenes on September 16th to consider making the new teacher-principal evaluation rules permanent.   I implore all the members of the Board of Regents to fully examine all the negatives associated with coupling these evaluations with high stakes tests.  Like so many others I have questions about the validity of these tests, as they are used to measure the proficiency of our students.  Furthermore, the opt-out of the 2015 tests by over 200,000 students adds significant doubt to the relevance of using these tests as part of the teacher/principal evaluation scheme.  Before the New York State Education Department institutionalizes these tests as a major component in the teacher/principal evaluation system these questions should be answered.  

While I write this letter to voice my opinion/concern as an educator, community member and grandmother of two Buffalo Schools’ students, I am also a member of the Buffalo Board of Education.   As a member of that body, however, it would be unconscionable not to note the recent revelation (September 4th) that the company we hired to calculate the APPR ratings of our teachers made a major error in their formula resulting in inaccurate ratings for 45% of our teaching staff.  This miscalculation was only uncovered thanks to the diligence of one teacher, who questioned her individual rating.  In all likelihood a recalculation of the evaluations will result in upgraded evaluations for the majority of 1,089 teachers.  I am angered by this company’s critical mistake and horrified to imagine the damage that would have been done if this problem had not been uncovered.   Who knows how many other districts will encounter a similar problem? This is a glaring example of another compelling argument for not approving these rules, which should weigh heavily in the Regents’ deliberations on this issue.  I’m sure that if the data is thoroughly examined the Regents will come to the conclusion that these rules should not become permanent.

Regent Collins, thank you again, on the behalf of the children of this District for your commitment to ensure better educational outcomes.    Your vote is crucial in supporting this goal.


Barbara A. Seals Nevergold

Barbara A. Seals Nevergold, PhD

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