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Deadline Approaching on Teacher Evaluation System, or $300 Million Out the Window

The City and the teacher's union are hammering out the finer details on an agreement, but some in the UFT have hesitations still

It's back in the spotlight again: This elusive yardstick, scorecard or system for evaluating teachers across New York State.

Negotiating parties appear to be close, but still, no decision has been reached. And this time, $300 million is at stake.

If you recall, in February of this year, the NYC Department of Education released the Teacher Data Reports for 18,000 teachers, creating a firestorm of controversy.

Not only did most in the teaching community feel that making teacher report cards public a breech of privacy, they felt the system for scoring teacher effectiveness -- one based on a formula which relies heavily on student test data -- does not tell the whole story.

, said that a rating system would help weed out and subsequently fire ineffective teachers, circumventing the "last-hired/first-fired" rule negotiated into teachers' contracts by the United Federation of Teachers.

Bloomberg even promised a funding increase from $13.3 billion from fiscal year 2012 to $13.6 billion for 2013, if the UFT could come to an agreement by January 2013 on a rating system.

Under the current ratings system, if student test scores surpass the expectations, their teacher is ranked at the top of the scale — "above average" or "high." If they fall short, the teacher "receives a rating of "below average" or "low."

Nearly every stakeholder involved in the negotiations agrees that the current rating system is short sighted and fails to provide useful feedback. The new system created by the state would put teachers into four rating categories: highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective.

Bloomberg and the UFT still need to work through the finer details — such as how many times principals can observe teachers in action and which tests other than the state tests will be used to measure student gains -- but some in the UFT hesitate, saying the new system includes a faster process for removing teachers who get poor ratings for two consecutive years. And this could result in punishing teachers rather than helping them, reported the New York Post.

Only six weeks remain before an agreement must be reached or else forgo nearly $300 million in public-school funds.

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