By Alan Fiero
In order to determine a child’s growth in a subject (SGP), New York State has placed all students, no matter what or how severe their disability, into one group. As absurd as it sounds, any child who requires special services due to: autism, deafness, deaf-blindness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, learning disability, intellectual disability, orthopedic disability, or multiple disabilities will all be compared against each other. This will be done by matching all students in this group who had the same score on a pretest.
Let me make this clear. If a child with any of the above listed disabilities scores let’s say a 540 on the state math test in 2011, his growth will be compared to the 2012 score achieved by all other students with disabilities that had that 2011 score.
Does anyone out there in his right mind believe that, no matter what or how severe a disability is, the child’s growth should be the same?
Consequences: These growth scores will be used to rate a child’s teacher. It is quite obvious, if a teacher has a class with severely disabled students, the teacher’s growth score will be low.
Even though the teacher may have helped her students with that level of disability to make amazing gains, by being compared to students with less severe disabilities, her score will be low. Since these scores will be, according to the new law, “a significant factor in employment decisions, including but not limited to promotion, retention, tenure determinations, termination and supplemental compensation,” teachers working with our most needy students may have the greatest chance of being branded ineffective and suffer severe consequences, including losing their jobs.
After working in education for close to 40 years, I can honestly say that the teachers that take on the challenge of working with our severely disabled children are the heroes and heroines of our profession. The love and dedication they show their students should be celebrated not condemned.
The new APPR teacher evaluation system is deeply flawed. It is harming all of the children and teachers in New York State. It attempts to reduce all a teacher does to one number, a task too complicated even for the state’s “big computer.”
Teacher evaluation may need reform, but, just as a teacher should not punish an entire class for the misdeeds of a few, so New York State should not punish all of its students and teachers.
Please, please help. Contact:
— Education Commissioner John King at NYS Education Dept., 89 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12234; phone: 474-5844;
And tell them that we must put aside political agendas and do what is best for our children.
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of six commentaries written by Dr. Alan Fiero, a science teacher at Guilderland’s Farnsworth Middle School, on the new state requirements for evaluating teachers and principals, known as the Annual Professional Performance Review.