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APPR: Evaluation Costs Outpace Funding

School districts outside the state’s five largest cities expect to spend an average of $155,355 to implement the state’s new teacher and principal evaluation system this year, based on an analysis of 80 districts that submitted cost data to NYSSBA. Those one-year costs are nearly $55,000 more than the average four-year federal grant awarded to New York school districts to implement the program.

“School boards have long supported the goals of the new teacher and principal evaluation system as a way to improve student achievement,” said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. “Our analysis, however, shows that the cost of this state initiative falls heavily on school districts. This seriously jeopardizes school districts’ ability to meet other state and federal requirements and properly serve students.”

In 2010, the federal government awarded New York State $697 million in Race to the Top grant funds. About half of the funding will go to local school districts over four years to implement the state’s new Annual Professional Performance Review system (APPR), as well as other initiatives. Yet the average Race to the Top grant of $100,670 (excluding the “Big Five” city school districts) falls $54,685 short of school districts’ average implementation costs, according to NYSSBA’s analysis.

NYSSBA found that school districts incurred APPR implementation costs in several broad categories: Salaries (compensation for employees, substitutes, trainers or consultants associated with additional costs incurred), Training (fees related to professional development, certification and related items), Assessments (costs associated with developing State Learning Objectives (SLOs) or other measurements, purchasing third-party state-approved assessments as well as related costs) Software and Technology (purchase, installation, and implementation of technology) and miscellaneous expenses, such as printing.

Implementation costs for APPR in the 80 school districts analyzed by NYSSBA ranged from a low of $15,500 to a high of $626,583.  “When we talk about unfunded— or, in this case, underfunded— mandates, this is exactly what we mean,” said Kremer.

In conjunction with the cost analysis, NYSSBA is releasing a research brief that takes an in-depth look at five of the State Education Department’s 10 model teacher evaluation plans. The brief examines how these model plans address the key components of the APPR law: state assessments to measure student growth, locally selected measures of student achievement, “other measures” of teacher effectiveness, and the appeals process.

Submitted by NYSSBA Executive Director, Timothy G. Kremer