main content starts here


Annual Professional Performance Review Q&A

Amid of a variety of changing laws and regulations regarding New York public school districts in recent years, one of the largest undertakings is the federal Race to the Top (RTTP) initiative. As part of RTTP, districts are required to conduct Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR). Here are some answers to frequently asked questions on the topic.

Q: What is the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) Plan?

A: APPR stands for Annual Professional Performance Review, and it is the process by which teachers and principals are evaluated in New York state. The purpose of APPR is to empower educators to improve the quality of instruction in schools and, in turn, to improve students’ performance and readiness for colleges and careers. APPR plans must meet strict state guidelines and are negotiated with local unions. Under state guidelines, APPR takes into account classroom observations, student test scores, and a variety of achievement and assessment measures – many of which are decided at the local level. Teachers and principals across New York ultimately receive a number grade every year, which equates to an effectiveness rating.

Q: Weren’t educators evaluated in the past?

A: Teachers and principals have always been evaluated and held to specific standards. The APPR system was revamped in both 2010 and 2012 as a result of the federal Race to the Top education reform initiative, and now evaluation plans must adhere to more rigid rules set by the state.

These new guidelines aim to enhance existing evaluation systems by providing more standardized, objective results, which can be used to better focus professional development. Plans must also be submitted and approved by the NYS Education Department and, for the first time ever, a portion of the evaluations are directly tied to student performance on state exams or other state-approved learning measures.

As a result of APPR and other aspects of RTTT, students will participate in more local “benchmark” assessments designed to track student progress in the classroom throughout the year. These new exams are designed to help teachers target content areas that may need further attention or students who need extra help.

Q: What is the goal of APPR?

A: The current evaluation system is one pillar of the larger federal Race to the Top education reform initiative that aims to improve the quality of instruction in our schools and, in turn, improve student performance and college and career readiness. The APPR requirements aim to provide standardized, objective evaluation results, which can be used to better focus professional development for teachers and principals. According to the State Education Department, “The purpose of the evaluation system is to ensure that there is an effective teacher in every classroom and and an effective leader in every school.”

Q: How are teachers and principals evaluated?

The details of the evaluation process are determined locally by districts, but all K-12 teachers/principals in the state are evaluated in three areas: classroom/leadership observations and evidence, student growth and student achievement. Currently, teachers and principals receive a score in each evaluation area and a cumulative score, broken down as follows:

• Observations & evidence: 60 possible points

These are locally-selected measures of teacher/principal effectiveness. While districts must follow state guidance and use state-approved rubrics to assess teacher and principal performance, districts – through the collective bargaining process – select how points in this component are assigned, as well as the respective scoring bands. “Scoring band” simply means the range of points that equate to a particular level of effectiveness.

• Student achievement: 20 possible points

These are locally-selected measures for student growth, such as building-wide learning targets. Like the 60-point component, districts select the process by which points are assigned in this area through collective bargaining with local unions. The scoring bands however, are determined by the state.

• Student growth: 20 possible points

This is either a state-provided growth score, derived from state assessment results, OR a score indicating progress made toward meeting student learning targets (a.k.a. Student Learning Objectives). As of August 2013, the state provides student growth scores for classroom teachers in grades 4-8 based on the state English language arts and math exams taken by students in these grades during the prior school year. Many principals also receive state-provided growth scores. For other grades/subjects, teachers – including those whose courses end in Regents exams – must create Student Learning Objectives, or SLOs, for their students, while principals must set building-wide learning objectives. These learning objectives are academic goals that are set at the start of a course/school year following specific state guidelines. The process by which the SLOs are set, reviewed and assessed is determined at the local level. For teachers of Regents classes, the Regents exam results must be used within the SLO as evidence of student learning. Scoring bands for this component are set by the state.

• Total score: 100 possible points

Once these scores are compiled at the end of the school year, the cumulative score is converted into a final effectiveness rating: Highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective (HEDI).

Q: How are effectiveness ratings determined based on these scores?

A: According to SED guidelines, every K-12 teacher and principal in the state receives a HEDI rating (highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective), calculated based on a 100-point possible overall score. The conversion for these ratings is as follows. (Note: Scoring bands – the range of points that equate to a particular level of effectiveness – may change slightly from year to year based on state requirements.)

APPR Ratings
HEDI Score
Growth or other Comparable Measures Scoring Bands (20 pts. Possible) Locally-Selected Measures of Growth or Achievement Scoring Bands (20 pts. Possible) Other Measures of Effectiveness (60 pts. Possible) Overall Composite Score (100 pts. Possible)
Highly Effective 18-20 18-20 Ranges determined locally 91-100
Effective 9-17 9-17 75-90
Developing 3-8 3-8 65-74
Ineffective 0-2 0-2 0-64


The chart below, provided by the State Education Department, also demonstrates how each rating is determined:

APPR Ratings
Standards for Rating Categories Growth or Other Comparable Measures Locally-Selected Measures of Growth or Student Achievement Other Measures
of Effectiveness
Highly Effective Results are well-above state average for similar students (or district goals if no state test). Results are well-above District or BOCES-adopted expectations for growth or achievement of student learning standards for grade/subject. Overall performance and results exceed standards.
Effective Results meet state average for similar students (or district goals if no state test). Results meet District or BOCES-adopted achievement of student learning standards for grade/subject. Overall performance and results meet standards.
Developing Results are below state average for similar students (or district goals if no state test). Results are below District or BOCES-adopted expectations for growth of achievement of student learning standards for grade/subject. Overall performance and results need improvement in order to meet standards.
Ineffective Results are well-below state average for similar students (or district goals is no state test). Results are well-below District or BOCES-adopted expectations for growth or achievement of student learning standards for grade/subject. Overall performance and results do not meet standards.


Q: Are APPR scores available to the public?

No, schools are prohibited by law from releasing APPR scores to the public. Teacher and principal composite scores ONLY can be released to parents of students in each teacher’s classroom and in each principal’s school. By law, scores can only be released to parents who specifically request them, and can only be released for a student’s current year teacher(s) and principal. Parents who wish to request these scores should contact their child’s school.

Q. Is teacher/principal expertise taken into account in each APPR evaluation?

Guidance from the State Education Department has been that districts are not expected to consider educator experience when calculating evaluation scores or when selecting local performance measures.

Q: Who evaluates teachers and principals?

A: Teachers and principals are evaluated by trained administrators within the district. Districts are required to include in their APPR plan the process by which these evaluators are trained and certified.

Q: What if a teacher/principal receives a rating of developing or ineffective?

A: Any teacher/principal rated as developing or ineffective will receive a negotiated Teacher Improvement Plan (TIP) or Principal Improvement Plan (PIP). These plans include the identification of needed areas of improvement, a timeline for achieving improvement, the manner in which the improvement will be assessed, and, where appropriate, activities to support improvement in those areas. A pattern of ineffective performance could lead to an expedited hearing process for termination. Teachers/principals who receive a rating of developing or ineffective may file an appeal based on the process outlined in the district’s APPR plan.

Q: If every district has a locally negotiated APPR plan, how do the effectiveness ratings of teachers and principals in my district compare to those in other districts?

A: Put simply, they don’t compare. While all districts must follow a certain set of guidelines when developing APPR plans, and then those plans must be approved by the State Education Department, many of the standards within these plans vary by district. This includes, but is not limited to, the observation rubrics districts decide to use, the student growth measures and assessments used in areas other than state standardized exams, and the way in which points are assigned within the different components. Similarly, districts routinely renegotiate their APPR plans with local unions, so it may be difficult to compare effectiveness ratings even within the same district from year to year.

Q: Besides principals, are any other school administrators evaluated?

The state’s APPR law requires that building principals be evaluated based on the new regulations. Any other administrators within the district must be evaluated based on the district’s procedures outlined in any collective bargaining agreements. Superintendents are required, under state law, to be evaluated each year by the district’s governing body (typically the board of education).

Q: What other tools are used to determine if students need extra instruction?

A: The staff also uses report cards, classroom work samples, state and local tests, observation checklists, behavioral logs and attendance data.

Q: How does APPR relate to Common Core Standards?

A: While the APPR plans have received much attention within school districts and in the media, they represent just one of the new regulations that are changing the ways schools develop, deliver and evaluate instruction.

Each district in the state is required to develop inquiry teams (one at each school) – teams of teachers and administrators who are trained in collecting, analyzing and then using data to adapt classroom instruction to meet students’ needs. These individual inquiry teams are supported by network teams, which are groups of experts (often through BOCES) in the field of educational data. Their work will go hand-in-hand with the work districts must also do to implement the new Common Core Learning Standards – new national learning standards, which are gradually replacing the current New York state learning standards that govern what is taught in the state’s public schools.

Teachers and administrators in districts across the state have been working, and will continue to work, to rewrite curriculum and lesson plans to meet the new standards. In addition, state exams will now be aligned with the new standards – meaning that students will be tested on both new knowledge and new skill sets. For the 2012-2013 school year, all English and math exams for grades 3-8 were aligned with the new standards. This year, some Regents exams (English, algebra and geometry) will follow the new standards, with the rest following in 2014-15.

(c) School Communications Portfolio, Capital Region BOCES