Assembly bill would delay new teacher evaluations

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NY ASSEMBLY SPEAKER

Assembly Democrats have introduced legislation that would delay the development and implementation of new teacher evaluations, as well as no longer tie school aid to the new standards.

The move is the latest salvo in what will be a fight in the state Legislature over how to address a new state law that was approved as part of the state budget April 1 to adopt new evaluation measures for teachers and principals.

With the legislative session slated to end June 17, Assembly Democrats in particular want to delay implementation of the new teacher evaluations that is required of the state Board of Regents by June 30.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly Education Committee chairwoman Cathy Nolan, D-Queens, would extend the deadline from June 30 to Nov. 17, and it would also extend the deadline for schools to put the new measures into place for a year — from Nov. 15 to Nov. 15, 2016.

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch last month said the Education Department will be tasked with moving back a deadline for schools to comply with the new evaluations.

Districts, in the law, had until Nov. 15 to install the new evaluations. But Tisch said districts can apply for a “hardship” clause and push the deadline back to Sept. 1, 2016.

But she and other Regents members hadn’t, at least publicly, indicated that they would also want to delay their June 30 deadline. In fact, the state Education Department indicated it would present a draft of the new regulations next week.

“Our obligation under the law is to have those regulations in place by June 30. Unless they change the law, we plan to have those regulations in place by June 30. That is in the law,” Tisch said recently.

The bill also includes a variety of measures that has been sought by education advocates, such as no longer tying school aid to the implementation of the new evaluations. Schools, according to the law backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would have their aid frozen if they didn’t have the evaluations in place by Nov. 15.

Districts, however, have said the timeline is unattainable: They would have about four months to adopt the state’s new standards and negotiate the changes with the local teachers’ union.

The bill would also make a number of changes to the evaluation process, many of which were sought by the powerful teachers unions:

  • Change the definition of “state-designed supplemental assessment” to include “other locally selected measures of student achievement” to be approved by the state Education Department.
  • Modify the teacher observation category to allow, instead of require, districts to use the independent trained evaluator process as part of a voluntary demonstration project established by the state.
  • Add $8.4 million to print more test forms for grades 3-8 state tests and eliminate “stand-alone” multiple choice field tests and release tests questions and answers by June 1 of each year.
  • Require state-provided growth models for teachers in grades 4-8 to consider “certain student characteristics,” such as students with disabilities, English-language learners and poverty status.
  • Create a content review committee to review the English and math tests for grades 3-8.
  • Mandate the education commissioner  to review Common Core education standards and make recommendations for changes.

(AP Photo)

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