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Cuomo powwows with lawmakers to discuss teacher eval proposals

Updated

The push to delay teacher evaluations linked to Common Core-aligned state tests got a legislative lift over the weekend, though a final deal was still being worked out on Monday afternoon.

On Saturday, state Assembly members proposed a bill that would remove student test scores from teacher and principal evaluations for two years, beginning with the 2013-14 school year. The bill’s content mirrors legislation that was passed by the Assembly in March, but its reemergence over the weekend reflects the urgent nature of the talks taking place behind closed doors in Albany.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also took a break from regular meetings with the state teachers union on Monday afternoon to meet with legislative leaders in the state Senate and Assembly. A Senate spokesman said they planned to discuss changes to the state’s 2010 evaluation law.

It’s not clear how much of the Assembly’s proposal, which sources say is meant to increase pressure on Cuomo and the Senate, will be part of a final deal. Lawmakers are pushing for a deal to come together by Thursday, the final day of the legislative session.

Catherine Nolan, the Assembly’s education committee chair who sponsored the legislation, said she introduce the bill over the week as part of the Assembly’s focus on the end of the session, which ends on Thursday.

Cuomo and union officials have met regularly since last week to discuss ways to change the law, which requires teachers be rated based partially on student test scores. Both sides are in agreement that teachers shouldn’t be penalized for students’ poor performance on the state tests, which were changed in 2013 to align to new, tougher Common Core standards, until schools are better prepared to implement them.

But there are still a number of issues that need to be addressed. Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch has said the tests should count no later than the 2014-15 school year, while Cuomo has expressed reservations about what would replace state test scores if they can’t be factored into a teacher’s evaluation.

Tisch and officials at the State Education Department have also raised questions about whether changes to the evaluations would put New York state in jeopardy of forfeiting federal funding tied to Race to the Top grant. As part of that funding agreement, the state agreed to implement evaluations that factored “student learning measures” into a teacher’s annual performance rating.

The Assembly’s proposal, though, would allow teachers in some districts to be evaluated based entirely on principal observations.

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