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Press Release: New Yorkers Overwhelmingly Want Deal on New Teacher Evaluation System

StudentsFirstNY // November 29, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Chandra M. Hayslett, Communications Director
chayslett@studentsfirstny.org
212-257-4350

New Yorkers Overwhelmingly Want Deal on New Teacher Evaluation System
New Poll Shows Robust and Resilient Support; No Excuse Seen for Losing $300 million

New York (Nov. 29, 2012) – A new teacher evaluation system that would ensure that New York City received $300 million in additional State education funding enjoys overwhelming support among City voters in general and parents in particular, according to a new poll released today by StudentsFirstNY, the education reform advocacy group, and conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research.

"Support for the new teacher evaluation system is robust and resilient, which sends a clear message that New Yorkers want to see a deal and won't accept excuses for inaction,” said Glen Weiner, deputy executive director for StudentsFirstNY.

According to the poll, four-out-of-five New York City voters (80%) support a new teacher evaluation system based on both classroom observations and test scores, with 56% supporting such a system strongly. After voters hear a detailed description of the plan, support remains strong, with 74% continuing to back such a plan and just 17% opposing it. Among parents of children in the city’s public schools, support for the plan following a description is just as strong (73%), with just under half (49%) backing it strongly.

When presented with a balanced debate, with statements from both supporters and opponents of a new teacher evaluation system, voters favor the new system by a 48-point margin (69% support / 21% oppose), with over two-thirds continuing to support it. Intensity is clearly on the side of supporters as well, with nearly four times as many voters strongly supporting a new evaluation system (44%) as strongly opposing it (12%).

Support for the system also transcends both geographic and demographic lines; as over 60% of voters in each borough and across every major demographic group support a new teacher evaluation system after hearing statements from both supporters and opponents. Even among households with a teacher, a new evaluation system is supported by a 26-point margin (58% support / 32% oppose) after a debate.

These findings come on the heals of a rally on the steps of City Hall last weekend during which over 100 parents, teachers and students demanded a deal on teacher evaluations.

“This strong support for a new teacher evaluation system stems from voters’ recognition of the importance of teacher quality and their dissatisfaction with the city’s current method of evaluating teachers,” said Jeff Liszt, partner at Anzalone Liszt Research.

According to the poll, having a quality teacher in every classroom is seen as the most important factor in providing a good education of the twelve factors that were tested. In addition the poll found that more than three quarters of voters (77%) who were aware of New York City’s current teacher evaluation system said it needed improvement. Under the current system teachers are rated satisfactory or unsatisfactory, though less than 3% of teachers typically get unsatisfactory rating in a given year.

In February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State legislature created a statewide framework for a new teacher evaluation system that is based on multiple measures of performance. The Governor then offered a four percent increase in state education funding to each school district that reached an agreement with its local teachers’ union on a new evaluation system consistent with the state’s framework. A deadline of Jan. 17, 2013 was set for having a deal in place.

For New York City, the State’s largest school district, a four percent increase in State aid is worth approximately $300 million. And while 615 of the roughly 700 districts across the state have submitted an agreement to the State, the United Federation of Teachers and Department of Education have yet to come to terms.

Despite a recent news report indicating that student feedback is not likely to be included in New York City’s new teacher evaluation system, the poll found firm backing for this idea. Three quarters of City voters said they support the use of student feedback. Recent analysis by the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project found that teachers’ student survey results are predictive of student achievement gains and produce more consistent results than classroom observations or achievement gain measures.

“Given its strong support and sound research grounding one would hope that including student feedback as part of the new evaluation system would remain on the table,” Weiner said.

New York City voters also put Albany on notice that inaction will not reflect well on them. More than seven in ten City voters agreed that officials up in Albany have a responsibility to make sure a deal gets done and New York City doesn’t lose the $300 million for its schools.