APPR- Annual Professional Performance Review or A Pathetic Plan for a Race
As our academic year comes to a close, teachers all across New York State are wondering whether or not HEDI will be preempting their end of year celebratory send off. In years past most of us looked forward to started anew in September. We looked forward to summers when we had the time to develop new units of study, get some reading done, maybe earn a couple of professional development credits, and possibly work in a summer program. Some of us also use our summers to recharge our batteries, get our bladders back to a normal schedule, and perhaps reconnect with our own families. In all cases we also looked forward to greeting those new faces and new challenges every September.
Unfortunately, for some of us HEDI will force us to wonder what happened, why has the ‘game changed’ and will we be forced to switch channels. Will our lives be turned asunder, will we be labeled ineffective?
New York State’s new teacher evaluation plan is based on APPR, an annual professional performance review. This review will either rate teachers as highly effective, effective, developing, or ineffective. This rating is based on several indicators- 20%-25% will be based on the New York State tests in Language Arts and Math, 15%-20% will be based on a local district selected assessment, and 60% will be based on 2 observations and the presentation of ‘evidence’ of a teacher’s professionalism. Today I find myself gathering ‘evidence’ that will serve as proof of my professionalism. Our district, much like many across the country have decided to use the Danielson Framework for Teaching as the tool to measure teachers. Even though I have heard rumors that Danielson, frowns on using her framework as a measuring tool, she has entered into deals with other companies and publishers that have developed computerized programs so that administrators can merely use their I pads to walk around and check off whether or not you have meet the rubric’s ambiguous criteria.
Take a look at Domain 1 and Domain 4..
Domain 1Planning and Preparation
1a Demonstrates knowledge of content and pedagogy
1b Demonstrates knowledge of students
1c Setting Instructional outcomes
1d Demonstrates knowledge of resources
1e Designing coherent instruction
1f Designing student assessments
Domain 4 Professional Responsibilities
4a Reflection on teaching
4b Maintaining accurate records
4c Communicating with families
4d Participating in a professional community
4e Growing and developing professionally
4f Demonstrating professionalism
Pretty open ended requirements you might say. But take a look at what that evidence could be for one sub category…
1d. Demonstrating knowledge of resources
Students and the classroom teachers are highly respectful reflecting genuine warmth, caring and sensitivity to students’ cultures and levels of development. Students themselves ensure high levels of respect.
Brings additional resources to curriculum/lessons …, SMARTBoard, newspaper and magazine articles, trade books, film, video streaming, etc.
Brings people from the community into the classroom to enhance instruction
Utilizes instructional websites to enrich curriculum/lessons
Ordering resources such as books, magazines and audiovisual materials
Evidence is district subscription to online encyclopedia (World Book) Book talking, book sharing and book displaying
Now here’s the rub. We are required to provide tangible evidence for each and every category. We are expected to put together a portfolio that proved we are effective to some degree… Hence HEDI.
Why do I have to prove my worth now. Administrators have march in my room so much this year, I even considered putting in a work order for a revolving door. Haven’t they witnessed my craft? Parents have met with me, and have seen the outstanding growth of their children, yet I still must gather evidence. I’ve been observed, I’ve attended meetings, I’ve been to workshops, I’ve shared articles, I’ve mentored other teachers and I still must gather evidence to fulfill the HEDI requirements. My question is why? Why must I now provide this? Haven’t my administrators seen the evidence already?
I refuse to gather my own evidence. I’ve offered to hand truck my filing cabinets down to the office, where any administrator can look for evidence. I’ve asked my principal to meet with me and I can show her anything she needs to prove my worth. Thank goodness she agreed to that.
That’s why I believe APPR is nothing more than A Pathetic Plan for a Race. Race to the Top is a failure.