In January, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that with a large number of teachers retiring in the next few years, 180,000 new teachers are needed over the next decade. It is now essential to retain as many of our talented teachers as possible. With students across the state taking standardized tests, 25 New York State Assemblymembers called for the teacher evaluation and retention components of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) to be postponed in a letter to Governor Hochul and Education Department Commissioner Betty Rosa today. The letter cited conversations in which educators consistently highlight the APPR as a cause for low teacher retention and recruitment.
Galef commented that with the COVID-19 Pandemic, educators are struggling, leading to exhaustion, early retirements, and teacher shortages. Similarly, students have faced disruption to their social, emotional, and academic lives. Galef pointed to the stability of permanent teachers and small class sizes as paramount to student success.
Galef said this year she would prefer to see an assessment of to what extent, if any, the APPR has contributed to the ongoing shortages. Additionally, if it is found that the APPR has contributed to the shortage, the letter asks that NYSED evaluate potential changes to the APPR.
Normally the APPR identifies where teachers could improve, using a variety of metrics including standardized state tests. However, both our teachers and students have borne an extraordinary burden throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic and evaluating them now might not provide accurate results.
Assemblywoman Galef said, “We must do everything in our power to support our students as they overcome the challenges to their education brought about by the COVID-19 Pandemic. That includes examining the current teacher shortage to see if it was caused by performance reviews that many teachers deem as inadequate assessments of their success in the classroom. In these unprecedented times, student test scores only capture one element of a teacher’s ability to support their students’ learning.”
Assemblymember John T. McDonald III RPh said "Our educators have stepped up tremendously to support our children and communities during these trying few years. By postponing the Annual Professional Performance Review this spring, we can allow educators to focus all of their energy on reaching our students. I believe a review of the APPR is necessary as we continue to navigate the challenges associated with the state's current teacher shortage."
Assemblymember Chris Tague said “To fulfill the promises we make to the children of this state to provide them with a sound education, it’s critical we have enough teachers to give them the attentive instruction they deserve. Teachers and students alike have been through the unthinkable during these last few years. If anything we should be providing on-ramps, not obstacles, for those seeking to teach our students. Given the volume of feedback we’ve received from educators and advocates regarding the state’s Annual Professional Performance Review and its effects on teacher retention, we should take a step back and look at whether or not the process is truly benefitting our students.”
Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon said “Our teachers put their students first during the COVID-19 Pandemic. They adjusted teaching styles and modes of delivery hourly. It is imperative to postpone any and all evaluations until they have transitioned their students into a consistent learning environment. I thank them all for their perseverance and dedication to education.”
Assemblymember Amy Paulin said ““Fostering a work environment that focuses on supporting and celebrating teachers is an important component to retaining teachers. COVID added a new variable to the challenge of teacher retention, but the problem is not new. A temporary reprieve and examination of APPR are concrete steps we can take to both help teachers and shift the focus to their well-being and continued success.”