97 percent of New York City teachers earn high marks on latest evaluations, union president says

Nearly 97 percent of New York City teachers were rated “effective” or “highly effective” last school year, compared to 93 percent the previous year, the city teachers union president said at a recent meeting.

About 26 percent of teachers earned “highly effective” ratings during the 2016-17 school year, a 4 percentage point bump from the previous year, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew told union members, according to people who attended the meeting. Just over 71 percent of teachers received “effective” ratings — the same share as the previous year, Mulgrew said.

Just 3 percent of teachers received the lowest ratings — “developing” or “ineffective” — down from 7 percent in 2015-16, Mulgrew said at the Sept. 27 meeting.

The figures he presented were shared with Chalkbeat by a meeting attendee. The blog NYC Educator first reported the numbers, which the city education department and the teachers union would not confirm.

Any city evaluation figures are still preliminary. The city education department has not yet sent the state those numbers, which are due Oct. 27, officials said.

If the city’s preliminary numbers do not change, they show that more New York City teachers are earning positive ratings under the current evaluation system — which may be partly related to changes in how the city rates teachers.

In an effort to hold educators to a higher standard, Governor Andrew Cuomo led the charge two years ago to create a tougher evaluation system that relied heavily on test scores. But the measure sparked outrage across the state, causing policymakers to temporarily remove grade 3-8 math and English test scores from evaluations.

In the first year of the test-score moratorium, the percentage of New York City teachers rated “highly effective” roughly doubled. (Still, even after that spike, a much larger share of teachers statewide earns that rating.)

New York City and the teachers union struck a deal last December that would allow teacher ratings to incorporate more “authentic” measures of student learning, including tests in additional subjects and compilations of student work. The new measures have not yet been factored into evaluations, city officials said.

State policymakers currently are reassessing the evaluation system. The most recent ratings — which show that virtually all teachers receive positive ratings when evaluations do not include state test scores — may help frame the discussion, which will likely focus in part on how much weight to give test scores in the evaluations.

In the past, the evaluations were derided as meaningless since nearly all teachers were labeled “satisfactory.” Test scores were introduced in part to limit the number of teachers earning top ratings.

Patrick Wall contributed reporting.