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Educators 4 Excellence-New York calls for greater action after Mayor de Blasio highlights school climate in annual address
February 4, 2016
It's encouraging to hear the mayor commit funds to safe and supportive learning environments, but more must be done, said E4E co-founder and co-CEO Evan Stone (press release).
February 3, 2016
State assessments will now feature greater teacher input, increased time for students to take them, and will be reduced in length, reflecting changes called for by E4E-New York members (press release).
January 12, 2016
"Michelle King is a smart choice and natural candidate to serve as the next superintendent of Los Angeles Unified," said Educators 4 Excellence-Los Angeles Managing Director of Policy Jennifer Denny (press release).
January 11, 2016
E4E-New York celebrated news that New York State high school graduation rates have increased following continued roll-out of the Common Core State Standards (press release).
December 21, 2015
As the Supreme Court prepares for Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), a national survey of over 1,000 E4E members finds a majority support paying the union’s “fair share” fees and are opposed to the plaintiffs’ position in this case.
December 15, 2015
Teachers Share Concerns, Identify Path Forward on Heels of New Task Force Recommendations and Report from America Achieves
Poll Shows Desire Among Classroom Teachers for Real Accountability as State Considers Next Steps on Evaluation
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
December 15, 2015 (Albany) – Days after a state task force recommended an overhaul of the state’s teacher evaluation and testing systems, a new poll of classroom teachers has found that the vast majority of New York State educators are in favor of a system that includes robust multiple measures and meaningful feedback. According to the poll of 601 classroom teachers, more than three quarters care about having a rigorous evaluation system that helps them improve as teachers, rather than one that just seeks to identify the lowest performing teachers. At the same time, only 9% of teachers think the current evaluation system works effectively. Teachers also remain skeptical about using test results in their ratings—38% of teachers currently support using that data.
Teachers from the New York chapter of Educators 4 Excellence, a teacher-led organization that seeks to elevate the voices of teachers in policy discussions and has been calling for a reform of the evaluation system, conducted the poll in the midst of a statewide debate over how to improve the evaluation process.
“This poll shows that teachers around New York State are supportive of better, more measured, and more meaningful evaluation, similar to the one proposed by Educators 4 Excellence teacher members,” said Evan Stone, co-founder and co-CEO of Educators 4 Excellence. “Forcing a new system with a 50% testing component on teachers is what caused this backlash, and led the Common Core Task Force to make headlines last week for proposing a delay on the use of Common Core-aligned testing in evaluations until at least 2019. As New York considers its next step, it’s important to remember what teachers really want – a system with high quality tests and other metrics that can provide reliable and timely feedback for teachers about their work, and give them a path to keep improving for their students. A delay is something teachers want, but is only helpful if it gets us to a place where all teachers feel that their evaluations are helping them to grow.”
Specifically, the poll found:
- Roughly two thirds of teachers believe the current evaluation system is worse than the one before it.
- Teachers in high-needs schools are less likely to feel negatively towards evaluation.
- 86% of teachers feel that evaluations from their principal are valuable, but 81% think that input from observers outside their school is less important.
- Just 38% of teachers believe that test results should have an impact on evaluation, showing the deep mistrust that exists towards current high-stakes tests.
“There’s a perception that teachers don’t want to be evaluated, and that any attempt to improve the system is a rejection of evaluations themselves. I teach in a high-needs school in the Bronx, and I can tell you that we want to be evaluated. We want to be the best we can be for our students. But it has to be based on the reality of the classroom, and not rely too much on any single measure. I want to be evaluated, but I want it to mean something,” said Panagiota Melis, an ELA teacher at the High School of World Cultures in the Bronx.
“Under the current system, the biggest portion of a teacher’s evaluation comes from student scores on math and English exams,” added Rosalynn Bristol, who teaches 8th grade ELA at John Wilson Intermediate School 211 in Brooklyn. “But what about teachers who teach science, or a foreign language, or special education? Is it fair that we’re evaluated so heavily on how our students do on tests in subjects we don’t even teach? The recent Common Core Task Force proposals, adopted by the Board of Regents, will change this for the next several years, but the local measures that are now worth 50% need to be reliable and normed across districts and we still need a long-term solution to this problem. At the end of the day, we need a well-rounded approach to evaluation that really lets me know how I’m doing as a teacher.”
“One of the most striking things in this poll, in my opinion, was that fewer than 40% of teachers think testing should play any role in evaluations. I think, based on conversations with my peers, that that likely speaks more to general frustration with the quality and rollout of high-stakes tests than to a real belief that we should throw out testing entirely. Still, though,” said Josh Micley, a 10th grade global history teacher at Women’s Academy of Excellence in the Bronx, “basing 50% of a teacher’s evaluation on just a handful of tests is too high, and doesn’t provide enough of a focus on principal evaluations that nearly 90% of teachers say they want. We need every measure, including student and parent feedback, in the right balance, to get a clear picture of how well a teacher is serving his or her students.”
Lisa Meade, Principal at Corinth Middle School, current Middle School Principal of the Year and an America Achieves New York Educator Voice Fellow, said, “I applaud Commissioner Elia's efforts in making room for educator voice in moving forward to develop a revised assessment system that is fair to students and provides instructional and program information to educators, parents and schools. Everyone involved would do well to read this poll and the recent America Achieves report, called To the Test, and see what educators around our state really want.”
“Evaluations are important,” Stone added, “but they have to be done right, and go hand in hand with professional development that helps teachers improve year over year. E4E teachers have argued for a total cap of 35% for both state and local measures of student learning, and the majority of any evaluation being based on the principals observation – something this poll shows they support. As we move forward, State, district, and union leadership need to work together to lower the rhetoric and focus on developing a system that helps teachers grow and prioritizes student learning.”
Made up of phone interviews with 601 public school teachers and conducted earlier this fall during the evaluation debate but before the release of the Common Core Task Force report, this scientific poll has a margin of error of +/-4.1%. The full results can be seen here.
For far too long, education policy has been created without a critical voice at the table – the voice of classroom teachers. Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization, is changing this dynamic by placing the voices of teachers at the forefront of the conversations that shape our classrooms and careers. E4E has a quickly growing national network of educators united by our Declaration of Teachers’ Principles and Beliefs. E4E members can learn about education policy and research, network with like-minded peers and policymakers and take action by advocating for teacher-created policies that lift student achievement and the teaching profession.
For more information, please visit www.educators4excellence.org.
December 10, 2015
Educators 4 Excellence-New York applauds the task force’s recommendations to retain high standards, improve assessments, and pause to make sure that we get implementation right (press release).
December 10, 2015
“The Every Student Succeeds Act marks a new era in education. To capitalize on these new opportunities, we need to make sure teachers are at the table to define how this law is put into practice,” said Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Educators 4 Excellence Evan Stone (press release).
Educators 4 Excellence-Minnesota welcomes new Minneapolis superintendent Sergio Paez to role leading school district
December 8, 2015
E4E-Minnesota teacher members hope that Superintendent Paez will continue important work on ending racial disparities and creating strong pipelines for teacher recruitment and retention (press release).
December 1, 2015
In many ways, a draft bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reflects teachers’ core priorities, with state testing, Title I and support for the lowest-performing schools in tact, said E4E co-founder Evan Stone (press release).