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New Assessments for Teacher Evals Could Emphasize Music, Art

 The new teacher evaluation system would emphasize subjects like music and art, education activists say.
The new teacher evaluation system would emphasize subjects like music and art, education activists say.
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Facebook/PAVE Academy Charter School

NEW YORK CITY — As students soon face new assessments in subjects like art, music and gym as a result of the latest teacher evaluation system, some supporters favor the new emphasis on subjects other than Math and English.

While 20 percent of the rating will be based on student test scores, 60 percent will come from classroom observations and another 20 percent from a "menu of options” that will be determined by a “student learning committee” of four members selected by the principal and four from the United Federation of Teachers, according to a press release.

Paul Hovitz, a retired special education teacher, said he believed years of attention to core subjects have excluded arts, music and gym from evaluations.

The new assessment formats have not yet been determined by the state, which announced the evaluation system on Saturday, but they will not be typical standardized tests.

The assessments could be successful if they are based on the teacher’s knowledge and experience, said Rosalie Friend, a retired educational psychologist and the member of Change the Stakes, an education advocacy group.

“The teacher’s professional judgment should be the basis for judging the whole work,” said Friend, adding that the assessments should also include a look at the student’s portfolio for the year.

Both Friend and Hovtiz agreed that formal tests would not be beneficial in these cases.

“These standardized tests cannot give an accurate picture of what the teacher does,” said Friend.

But some critics are against the idea of further testing, whether through assessments or standard exams.

“I think it’s an incredible waste of time and potentially money,” said Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, a nonprofit organization that advocates for smaller class sizes in city public schools.

“It’s hard to imagine assessments in music or art that wouldn’t be a waste of time,” she said.