Dear NYSED, Please Send Answers

Dr.  King:

Good morning Sir. This is Kimberly Moritz, superintendent of Randolph Central School District. We are working like fiends to do everything right, as you’ve asked. We are implementing the common core curriculum, REALLY implementing it, not just a lesson here or there—because we see this as the number one priority for our district’s improvement. Also, we purchased and implemented iReady as our local measure in Grades K-8, Math and ELA, and we are studying the results in our Data Inquiry Teams so that we can make good instructional decisions. We’ve implemented the Danielson rubric, with in-district training for administrators, teachers and teacher leaders. We’re learning every day and trying to get better. Our teachers are working on portfolios to use in end of the year APPR meetings with building administrators on Domain #4 of the rubric—-and all of this with a contract that would have precluded us from moving forward until 2012-13. Why is it working? We’ve shared decisions with our teachers union and worked collaboratively to get this right. We did all of this to give our teachers and building administrators the opportunity to learn and grow, to experiment with all that we’re expecting, all that you’re expecting, BEFORE it’s used in a publicly reported, by teacher and administrator, composite score.

We’re planning parent forums to better communicate the changes to our parents. We’re evaluating our schedules in both buildings and in particular are analyzing our delivery of AIS services so that we can better correct any gaps in learning that our students may have from previous years. We’re talking  a lot about fluid ability grouping so that we can do more for our students who are at the top academically and so that we can better differentiate our instruction.

And now I’m starting to work on determining the scoring bands that you’ve set forth on the Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, Ineffective bands. They don’t work. They hurt teachers and principals who are doing everything you’ve asked us to do. I don’t know what proposal I can possibly develop for my work with our union leaders. My concern is that the scoring bands are going to place all of our teachers and principals into a position of fear and intimidation—a position from which no one does their best work. And that will affect the entire climate of our buildings. And that will negatively affect our children. Here’s what I’m talking about.

Wonderful and Typical RCS Teacher hypothetically receives:

13/20  for growth on the State Assessments which is in the Effective Range

15/20 for the iReady results which is in the Effective Range

15/20 for the Portfolio Review of the Domain #4, Danielson Rubric which is in the Effective Range

31/40 for a solid proficient rating on multiple evaluations, Danielson Rubric which is in the Effective Range

74 Composite Score on the NYSED Scoring Bands which is in the Developing Range

So a teacher can be effective in each of the sub-components and developing overall? How is that possible? You have a problem Sir. And it goes without saying that it will be as difficult for our best teachers to be in the Highly Effective Range, EVER, as it is for our smartest fourth graders to achieve a 4 on the State ELA test. Which we’re working on, by the way. We want more 4’s and more 3’s and well, even without the TESTS, we aim to do a better job, aligning to the common core, making data driven decisions, doing all of the things well that you’ve asked us to do. Believe it or not, we do want every child to succeed and we understand we’ve got to be more deliberate in making that happen through the common core curriculum and data analysis, NOT through fear and intimidation. Not through the composite scores you’re instituting.

Two things will happen. One, I’ll have to hire three more administrators to help me with all of the teacher improvement plans indicated by your scoring bands. Two, our teachers will be demoralized, defeated, and ready to give up.

We get it Commissioner King. We are going to transform this district from the wonderful, productive place that it already is into a more focused PK-12 continuum of curriculum that positively affects student achievement in big ways. And we’re also going to be sure that while productive, we don’t suck all of the joy out of learning. Your insanely punitive scoring bands are not going to help make that happen. Raise expectations, think the best of us, help us to get there. Reward us when we do. The scoring bands and the publicly reported composite scores will not help us get there.


Kimberly Moritz, Superintendent

  1. Can I come work at your school? I teach 4th grade. I agree with your statement 100%. It’s inspiring to see an adminisrator stand up as a voice of reason and support for all those feeling the impact of these new evaluations

  2. If teachers must be scored, why not stick with the rubric and the composite score can be a 4-1, highly effective, effective, developing, ineffective? Why must it be converted to a typical “test” score?

  3. Came across your blog from Diane Ravich’s twitter feed– excellent. I served as a teacher rep on the Hamburg CSD APPR committee and we saw the same problems with the scoring ranges. The madness needs to stop. State ED is being run by anti-public school, pro-charter and anti-teacher hacks who don’t have a clue about education.

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