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New teacher evaluations bring some surprises

An undated file photo of a school bus.

An undated file photo of a school bus. Credit: Newsday

Local school officials are still digesting state teacher and principal evaluation ratings released last week, noting discrepancies between their own experience and what the state found.

The data, part of a new statewide evaluation system, cover math and English Language Arts teachers in grades four through eight and their principals. Each teacher and principal was given a score, based in part on student test results over time, and then classified as highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective.

These rankings from the New York State Education Department make up 20 percent of a teacher's or principal's overall evaluation. The remainder comprises local measures, including classroom observations.

Alan Groveman, superintendent of the Connetquot School District, said the information contained a number of surprises.

"Some of our teachers who are universally acclaimed by staff, parents and administrators to be exceptional, showed up as 'developing,' " he said. "And others, who were not nearly rated so highly, showed up as 'effective.' "

More than 100 teachers in his district were rated.

State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said the system will ultimately help improve instruction.

"The commissioner tells us this is a work in progress," Groveman said. "I think we need to see a lot more progress before we can really apply the scoring in any effective manner."

Solid teachers who receive poor ratings shouldn't be too worried, he said.

"We know how good they are and they know how good they are," he said. "They should take comfort in that."

Connetquot is one of 82 Long Island school districts that have submitted an evaluation plan, as required by the state by January 2013.

Alan Meinster, director of curriculum and instruction for the Shoreham-Wading River Central School District, said the results mostly reflected what he already knew about staff, though there were some anomalies.

He said he's trying to figure out what exactly the ratings mean for his district.

"As a new system, it is going to take some time for us to look at how the numbers are generated and what meaning they have for how we deliver instruction to students," he said. "We're working on it."

William Floyd Superintendent Paul Casciano said he wasn't sure what to expect from last week's release but that a majority of his teachers fell into the "effective" category, mirroring the results at the state level.

"Based on what I've seen, there are going to be a lot of people who are going to be relieved," he said.

Parents will be able to access individual teacher and principal ratings through their local school district as the information becomes available.

But the state will not release names to the public. In fact, districts with one principal and few teachers at each grade level will see their results combined with similarly sized neighbors.

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