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RTA President Speaks Out on Teacher Evaluation Ratings

City Newspaper

The leader of the local teachers union is speaking out on recently released teacher evaluation ratings.

According to the State Education Department, more than 90% of public school teachers outside of New York City received high scores. They were ranked either “highly effective” or “effective.”

While the ratings may seem favorable, Rochester Teachers Association President, Adam Urbanski, said they don’t tell the whole story.

In a written statement, State Education Commissioner, John King, explained these are preliminary numbers and that there’s a significant amount of analysis that must still take place.

"But we wanted to provide a sense of the landscape. The results are striking. The more accurate student proficiency rates on the new Common Core assessments did not negatively affect teacher ratings,” said King.

“It's also clear that it's time to put aside talk about a moratorium on the use of state assessments in educator evaluations and focus on ensuring all students receive the rigorous and engaging instruction that will help them to prepare for college and careers," King Said.

RTA President, Adam Urbanski said King’s comments couldn’t be further from the truth. He said less than 1% of teachers in non-urban districts were rated “developing” or “ineffective.” Meanwhile, in cities like Rochester it was closer to 40%.

"The system is built in a way to punish unfairly urban environments,” said Urbanski. “If it's not corrected it may lead to the dismantling of public schools in cities in this state and in this country,” Urbanski said.

Here’s how the evaluations work: teacher observations make up 60% of the rating, while state and local tests make up 40%. Urbanski said both urban and suburban teachers rated highly with observations - but results differed significantly on the test portion. He said that’s because city kids got lower test scores because their needs continue to go un-addressed.

".... so many more in the city than in suburbs are English language learners,” said Urbanski. “…so many more in special education, so many more suffer from the ravages of poverty," Urbanski said.

The RTA President added what may be fair in one environment becomes grossly unfair in another because of the circumstances.

Meanwhile, about 600 out of the 900 RCSD teachers who received “developing” or “ineffective” ratings on the recent evaluations have filed appeals. Urbanski said they should be resolved within the next week.