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Action to extend APPR moratorium
expected to take place in December

By Cathy Woodruff, Senior Writer

Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa announced Monday that the Regents will be moving to extend the current moratorium on using state test results as a factor in New York’s teacher and principal evaluation system. Instead of expiring at the end of the current school year, the moratorium would run through June 2020.

That means that while students’ state math and English language arts test scores still can be a factor considered in some teacher and principal evaluations, school personnel will remain shielded from losing their jobs or suffering other consequences related to those test scores.

Rosa said adding a year to the moratorium will provide more time for the State Education Department to gather broad input from stakeholders and craft recommendations for an improved Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) system.

"We needed to ensure that we give ourselves time to really look at this," Rosa said, describing the work already underway as "a deep dive" looking at what parts of the current system work and which parts do not.

Rosa’s announcement came at the conclusion of Monday’s full board meeting. She said that, based on a consensus of the members of the Board of Regents, she and Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown are asking Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to prepare regulatory language needed to extend the moratorium for the December board meeting agenda.

"The importance of the moratorium is to offer greater assurance that we will get it right," said Brown, who said the process for gathering feedback from stakeholders around the state has begun.

Brown said the moratorium extension should improve the chances for enacting a system that will be "more widely embraced and accepted" than the current one. "Many of us have been on the board long enough to know the consequences of having an evaluation system that is not widely embraced," he said.

"We have to have a system that works not only for teachers, but also to the benefit of students," Brown added.

Since the current APPR system is in state law, any updates and changes will need to be approved by the state Legislature and the governor.

Rosa declined to say whether the Regents will explicitly push lawmakers to hold off on making changes to the system until they have findings and recommendations from the Regents and State Education Department (SED) in hand.

"We expect the legislators to make sure that our voices are very much a part of the decision-making, because obviously, as legislators, they are hearing the voices of their communities," she said. "But we also respect each other’s work. I would say that legislators want the input of both the commissioner and the department and the Board of Regents in terms of this work."

The moratorium now in effect blocks certain professional consequences for teachers when their evaluations would be negatively affected by the results of state math and English language arts exams for students in grades 3-8. In this way, it unhitches the most unpopular portion of APPR – the use of state test scores – from their most controversial application in teacher and principal evaluations.

NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer praised the Regents’ impending action to extend the moratorium.

"We appreciate this commitment from the commissioner and the Regents to gather broad input to help build a better teacher and principal evaluation system for New York," Kremer said. "School boards are anxious to get beyond the never-ending APPR debate. We need an accountability system that everyone believes in."

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