the 2011-2012 school year we have heard time and again about the Regents Reform
Agenda and the APPR. The APPR is the
State’s attempt to develop a new evaluation system tying together student
achievement with teacher and principal evaluations. This system is entirely new
to educators and continues to develop and change as the State refines and
revises the processes, often times in the middle of the school year. At the
same time, state tests are changing with the goal of increasing student performance. We all knew grades 3-8 assessments were
changing this year, but much to everyone’s surprise, the State also changed how
some of the Regents were scored, raising the bar so that what once would have
been a passing score was not a passing score this past year.
is a tremendous amount of change connected to this agenda. This necessitated a
tremendous amount of new information, rules and procedures. Educators across
the state have been attempting to keep pace and learn how to navigate through
the many new expectations and complexities of this new evaluation process.
Beacon is no different. It takes the work of the entire educational community,
not only to understand, but also to be able to implement this massive change. As we know, Beacon is a Focus District and
has two Focus schools. The State is
investing additional resources of time and oversight into these identified
schools and districts. There is no question that the State will continue to pay
close attention to Beacon as long as we remain a focus district. For example,
most of us know the story of how the State intervened and revised our APPR
plan, particularly in the goal setting process.
the opening day of school, the APPR has been the topic of discussion creating
speculation, disappointment, anxiety, fear and stress across each of our
schools. I share and understand the
frustration with my colleagues and therefore, I would like to take a few
moments to clarify the efforts of the faculty regarding the APPR.
certain, there is one thing that remains clear to me...last year our teachers
took on the challenges of the APPR with vigor and integrity. No district, that I am aware of, worked
harder or more diligently than we did.
The Beacon Teachers along with our administrative team worked as
professionals; understanding and accepting the challenges we faced class by
class on a daily and weekly basis. Through a collaborative process, we reached
agreement on a plan by which teachers would be judged, in part, based upon how
the students in their building performed on certain state assessments. In doing
so, we assumed that the manner of measuring student performance on such State
assessments would remain the same from one year to the next. We were wrong. I
am not here tonight to challenge the actions of the State; however, by
increasing the rigor by which student performance would be assessed in
2012-2013, the State removed any valid basis by which such scores could be
compared to the 2011-2012 scores.
data shows that although we did not meet the targets set forth by the State, we
did grow and increase our student performance in many areas throughout the
district. Without question, ratings that
resulted from the flawed system are not a reflection of who we are as teachers,
nor are they reflective of the hard work we put forth last year on behalf of
our students. We are not defined, nor will we ever be solely identified, by
just a number or a rating, particularly when the number was arrived at through
a flawed and constantly-changing process.
will be easy to remain angry and deflated, to blame and deflect or to acquiesce
and disengage as the current system challenges our true focus, our moral
purpose and our reason for being here. We cannot allow this political system to
define us, but we must understand, accept and work through the obstacles and
challenges that every APPR plan in every district is facing without sacrificing
our integrity and without ever compromising our responsibility to every one of
our students who rely on us every single day.
look to my fellow educators to stand tall and be proud of our accomplishments,
knowing that we need to continue to improve for our Beacon students who deserve
nothing but the best. You may wonder if we had a bad plan, the answer is clearly
no, our results come from the constantly changing system. As reflected in the teachings of Edward
Deming and his colleagues, “if we don’t like the results we have to change the
system”. The Beacon Teachers know we need to stay resilient and we will ultimately
prevail and solve not only the APPR puzzle, but also the disputed evaluation
system. We all know that in order to be
successful in Beacon, one needs strength, passion, commitment, courage and
resiliency...and that my friends we have!
will get it right, we will remain
strong, I urge every one of my colleagues to stay united, stay informed and
join together to continue the good work we do for our students each and every day! They need us and we need
the interim, we will continue to work with the District administration and our
Board of Education towards the goal of improving the system, recognizing
excellence in education, supporting teaching staff and doing all that we can do
to improve student achievement in Beacon.
invite the BOE, fellow educators and the broader community to join with us,
keeping our eyes on the big picture and taking the longer view for student
success. We all must work together,
openly and collaboratively to do what is best for our students. Let us move beyond
the flaws in the APPR system and dig deeply into the new challenges for this
thank our Board of Education for your support and trust and look forward to
your continued partnership with the BTA as we remain focused on teaching and learning.
Thank you, Kim Atwell BTA President