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What's so different about this eval plan?

Buffalo teachers are in the process of voting on the latest teacher evaluation agreement. Voting is scheduled to wrap up today.

State Ed, the district administration and the teachers union leadership have all given it the thumbs-up (although Phil Rumore's approval was contingent on an affirmative vote by the teachers).

What, exactly, is different about this agreement, compared to the one teachers rejected at the end of March?

Four things are different. (For a copy of the full agreement, click here. The changes from the last version are highlighted.)

Here's the nitty gritty:

- Teachers in schools where 20 percent or more of the students do not speak English as their native language will have two points added to their overall score, which is out of a possible 100 points.

Out of the six schools covered by the 2011-12 evaluation agreement, only two -- International School 45 and Riverside Institute of Technology -- would be affected by this provision. Any teacher at either of those schools who gets an 80 on their evaluation overall, for example, would have two points added, for a total of 82 points, to compensate for the concentration of English language learners in their building.

- An attendance provision has been extended to teachers of grades 4 to 8, English language arts and math, at the elementary schools. The March version of the evaluation agreement included an attendance provision for the four high schools (Bennett, Burgard, Riverside and South Park), but not for the two elementary schools, International School 45 and Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Institute.

This version of the agreement stipulates that in elementary schools where the percentage of students with chronic (missing 10 to 20 percent of the school year -- 18 to 35 days) and severe chronic (missing 20 percent or more of the school year -- 36 days or more) absenteeism is greater than or equal to 35 percent, two points will be added to one 20-point section of the teacher's evaluation.

The new provision would apply to MLK (where 43 percent of students miss 10 percent or more of the school year), but not to School 45 (where 22 percent of students miss that much school), based on the most recent attendance study available from the district. It's not clear, though, from the evaluation agreement which school year the attendance stats will be drawn from.

- Two charts for one 20-point measure for elementary school teachers (one for those outside of grades 4 to 8 ELA and math, and one for those in grades 4 to 8 ELA and math) have been tweaked. Now, a teacher getting nine points in that section (which is worth up to 20 points) will be considered "effective" instead of "developing."

- One chart for high school teachers has been tweaked. This chart pertains to the schoolwide increase in the percentage of students getting five course credits toward graduation.

Under the new chart, a schoolwide increase of 0.7 to 0.99 percent will be considered "developing" instead of "ineffective." A schoolwide increase of 1.75 to 1.89 percent will be considered "effective" instead of "developing." And a schoolwide increase of 2.8 to 3 percent will be considered "highly effective" instead of "effective," and will give each teacher one to three more points than under the old chart.

What stays the same in the new agreement is the attendance provision for high school teachers. In any high school where the combined percentage of students with chronic and severe chronic absenteeism is greater than the district average, allowances will be made on one 20-point section.

It appears that will apply to all four high schools, whose student absenteeism is far worse than the district average.

- Mary Pasciak

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