274 teachers have been placed on corrective action plans following evaluations that found 10-percent of city teachers to be partially ineffective or ineffective, according to education officials.
The evaluations completed at the end of 2013-14 academic year placed the city’s 2,600 teachers in one of four categories: highly effective, effective, partially effective or ineffective. State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans said there are seven indicators, each is assigned a score, and those scores are added up to come up with a final score, which places a teacher in one of the four performance categories.
Teachers rated partially effective or ineffective have one-year to improve their performance or run the risk of losing their jobs, according to district officials. “They end up on a corrective action plan if they are ineffective or partially ineffective,” said Evans. The corrective action plan specifies what a teacher needs to do to correct and bring their performance up to par, said Evans.
The superintendent said the plan is the product of collaboration between a teacher in need of remediation and their school principal.
“The expectation is that they follow and execute the corrective action plan to correct areas they need to improve upon,” said Manuel Martinez, head of the school board’s personnel committee. He said each plan takes into account a teacher’s need and offers tips and strategies for improvement.
Evans said some teachers may need professional development which the district will provide. Peter Tirri, president of the Paterson Education Association, the teachers union, said often the district fails to provide professional development to teachers. Tirri mentioned an incident where a teacher was scheduled to attend a professional development course during the day, but was told she could not by her school’s principal because there was no one to cover her class.
Teachers who receive poor evaluations two years in a row are faced with the prospect of losing their jobs. Evans said the district can press tenure charges against tenured teachers which will result in them losing their positions. “If they are a non-tenured teacher we can non-renew them and they will lose their position,” said Evans.
Some teachers call the evaluations, instituted through the AchieveNJ Act, “punitive” and “subjective.” They said a principal in bad terms with a particular teacher is able to issue a poor performance review out of ill will. “This whole system was setup to get teachers,” added Tirri. He said the system is designed to remove teachers who are being paid a decent salary to create savings.
“They would have to validate and prove a teacher is in need of remediation they wouldn’t just be able to invent things or make things up,” said Martinez. “They would have to justify their [evaluations].”
A teacher, who did not wish to be named, said administrators can rate a teacher based on their whims, and justify it through an evaluative process.
District spokesperson Terry Corallo said all teachers undergo observations throughout the school year from several people not just one individual. Tirri said sometimes English supervisors are sent to observe math classes.
Corallo said feedback is then collected by the principal to create a summative evaluation which places a teacher on a linear scale ranging from highly effective to ineffective. The union’s president said majority of the times decisions and final scores are compiled by the principal in an arbitrary fashion.
Corallo said tenured teachers have two short and one long observations per year. A long observation is 40 minutes; a short observation is 20 minutes, according to the New Jersey Department of Education. Non-tenured teachers have two long and two short observations during their first two years. One long and two short observations during years three and four, said Corallo.
A teacher rated partially ineffective or ineffective is subject to an added long observation, receives additional professional development, and is subjected to a mid-year evaluation to measure progression of corrective action plan objectives, Corallo said.
She said a teacher on corrective action plan (CAP) or instructional improvement plan (IIP) has his or her increment withheld. Corallo said non-tenured teachers could be let go without the district placing them on CAP or IPP, but the district placed 41-percent of 274 on corrective action plans.
Tirri mentioned 28 teachers who were put on corrective action plans following evaluations completed by a now terminated principal and vice-principal at School 6. He said at times administrators on corrective action plans are reviewing teachers raising concerns about the objectivity of the evaluations.
A teacher said many of his colleagues do not understand the gravity of the evaluations, for if a teacher is brought up on tenure charges he is jeopardizing his teaching license.
“I’m surprised at the number,” said Rosie Grant, president of the Paterson Education Fund, an advocacy. Grant said the corrective action plans would suggest the teachers are working on areas in need of improvement, but she is uncertain whether having so many teachers on corrective plans is a good or bad thing.
“It’s more than we thought,” said Evans.
“We’d like to see this number lowered,” said Martinez. “We don’t want teachers who are under performing.”