Open Letter: Suspend the APPR System!

April 26, 2020

Michael Mulgrew


United Federation of Teachers

52 Broadway 

New York, NY 1004

Senator Dean G. Skelos

Majority Leader and President Pro-Tempore

New York State Senate

330 CAP

Albany, New York 12247

Carl E. Heistie 

Majority Leader

New York State Assembly

LOB 932

Albany, NY 12248

The Honorable Betty Rosa

Chancellor, New York State Board of Regents

The Honorable MaryEllen Elia

Commissioner of Education

New York State Education Department

89 Washington Avenue

Albany, New York 12234

Re: Suspension of NYS Teacher Evaluation Laws 3012-c and 3012-d

We are writing to ask you to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to suspend NYS Teacher Evaluation Laws 3012-c and 3012-d for this current academic year In light of the pandemic that has crippled New York State and has led physical school buildings to closed, standardized exams (notwithstanding the College Board’s AP Examinations for May 2020) across the nation have been canceled. In New York State, all standardized exams including those necessary for promotion, the NYS Regents Exams have also been canceled. Given the fact students are engaged in remote learning, it will be impossible, and unfair, to administer the Measures of Student Learning (MOSL) assessments.

Under the best of circumstances, standardized tests cannot measure student progress under any particular standard. From a statistical standpoint, a handful of questions per standard is not a statistically sound measure of a student’s mastery of that standard. Rating teachers on student exam scores is not recommended by the American Statistical Association as it is not a reliable way to measure teacher performance yet in New York we only have a moratorium on using standardized tests to rate certain teachers. Teachers are still rated on tests and other assessments that were never designed to rate teachers. The Measures of Student Learning portion of teacher ratings is highly unreliable. Many call it “junk science.”

We urge you to stand by New York State’s teachers and postpone the use of the APPR Teacher Evaluation System (under Educational Law 3012-c and 3012-d) for this academic year. We urge the support of an evaluation system not based on standardized exams but solely on teacher performance in the classroom. Under the previous system, teachers received a rating of either Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory and was in use until September 2013. Under these current circumstances, we urge you to utilize the S/U system to evaluate NYS educators. 

Sincerely yours,

UFT Solidarity

A Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers

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  1. Evaluations for this year should be thrown out.
    We cannot be evaluated on remote learning.
    We cannot switch to S/U on a whim because
    some teachers are not familiar with this system.
    We cannot be evaluated on MOSL because
    some students did not get devices in time. some never
    did not show up and just difficult to give instruction.

  2. I agree that the APPR needs to be suspended as it is not a fair representation of how students learn or even the teaching methodologies that teachers use to engage students with behavior problems that the evaluation system does not focus on. Now that students are isolated and not with other students that they engage with in daily pranking on their teachers, and getting away with it , we can easily see if they are willing to sit by themselves, in front of a computer and learn only being given support as needed and staying serious about their learning. They can easily be graded in those areas but now they are getting a Pass For All which empowers them even more to be resistant knowing that teachers will be held hostage for their behavior as grades don’t really count when there is a pandemic so why should they ever count?
    Teachers need to rise up against the assault from the Charlotte Danielson evaluation, the biggest issue preventing growth in instruction and student development. The creativity in teaching is immensely important if students are to engage in activities that focus on how they learn without a scripted approach that makes teaching seem robotic and inhuman and is only a game plan to prove that the standardized test scores improve when teachers follow the Danielson approach. Yet there is no evidence that the teacher evaluation system produces great teaching or great learning and the correlation still shows that students must be held accountable for the curriculum and that teachers have that responsibility to enforce that they learn with standards of behavior that are the foundation and structure in every school.
    Our students in NYC where the employment opportunities will only get more stringent stemming from this pandemic must learn to focus, respect and have faith in the teacher who holds high ethical standards for them ,and keeps them focused on learning through doing, and accomplishing their goals. That is the standard that everyone should be evaluated on if they are going to teach and instruct children.

    Sadly, the NYC school system is creating more chaos by not having standards in distance learning and then not applying them to teachers who are working so hard to find meaning in all of this that has changed our world forever. And again, this experience could have actually made students become more focused on their learning abilities but the system killed that for them too. It is so sad. Our students will never get this missed opportunity that can change their lives for the better .
    But again teachers are loosing that teachable moment because the State will not hold them accountable but will make sure that teachers will be. So much for a failed evaluation system. All that is left now is uncertainty about where anyone stands in this system. And students are the losers because they are being give a free ride to nowhere.

  3. “A free ride to nowhere.” Love it. Should print this on T shirts and bumper stickers.

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