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Hundreds Of City Teachers Ranked Poor On Evaluations

Hundreds of Rochester teachers are questioning poor evaluations given by the state.
Hundreds of Rochester teachers are questioning poor evaluations given by the state.

In the Rochester City School District, 900 teachers received a "developing" or "ineffective" evaluation while in many nearby suburban districts no teachers received those poor evaluations. About 600 teachers are now appealing those evaluations, which basically say they are not making the grade.

"You are not a city school teacher if you don't want to make a difference," teacher Matt Lavona said.

That has been Lavona's mindset for the last 14 years. He is a 4th grade teacher at School #2. But the state says he is just "developing."

"They don't take into account attendance. They don't know what type of behavior problems I have in my classroom," he said.

Lavona's is one of the 900 city school teachers evaluated with a "developing" or "ineffective" rating.

"Are city teachers so much worse than suburban teachers? Obviously that is not true, they are just as qualified and just as good," teachers union president Adam Urbanski said.

The evaluations are determined with this formula: 60 percent classroom observation, 20 percent state tests and 20 percent local tests.

"I think they should put more emphasis on classroom performance of teachers and less emphasis on high-stakes testing; especially when students don't show up, when students have social and emotional needs that go unmet," Lavona said.

Suburban districts like West Irondequoit only received good evaluations. But even Superintendent Jeff Crane says change is needed.

"It is unfair to teachers. It is an accountability system that is not based on sound research. That has teachers thinking about ratings instead of instruction," Crane said.

Crane has recommended to the state to weigh evaluations with 75 percent observation and 25 percent exams. Teachers like Lavona hope people can see past a grade.

"I wouldn't change anything that I did last year," he said.

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