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January 17, 2012
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JP O’Hare or Jeanne Beattie

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Education Commissioner King And Board Of Regents Welcome Governor Cuomo’s Leadership On Issue Of Teacher And Principal Evaluations

State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. today said he and the Board of Regents welcome Governor Cuomo's leadership on the issue of teacher and principal evaluations.  King said he’s hopeful the Governor’s actions spur negotiations resulting in a rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation system as envisioned in the State's Race to the Top application.  King said the State Education Department (SED) regulations issued last year were a good starting point for public negotiations.

"The Governor is right to be frustrated," King said.  "So far, there hasn’t been much progress.   Earlier this month, I suspended School Improvement Grants because participating districts had failed to meet the deadline for acceptable agreements on evaluations. Now, the Governor has given SED and New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) 30 days to resolve this issue definitively.  We should use those 30 days to have a healthy public debate on evaluations.  We’re ready to sit down and start talking.

"There’s more than a billion dollars at risk.  We cannot fail to meet the commitments New York State made in Race to the Top.  More importantly, we cannot fail the students who are counting on us to deliver the education they need to succeed in college and careers."

King added he believes the Governor’s call for New York State United Teachers to end its lawsuit and his plan to link additional state aid to local bargaining on evaluations are positive steps toward resolving evaluation negotiations across the State.

King said the evaluation system described in New York's Race to the Top application: relies on multiple measures including student performance; differentiates educator performance into four categories (highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective); ensures appropriate professional development; provides for the expedited removal of ineffective educators who fail to improve despite support; and will help raise student achievement.  King noted that the on-going NYSUT litigation and the failure of the School Improvement Grant districts to meet the deadline for bargaining constitute evidence of the need to clarify the 2010 evaluation law to incorporate the principles embraced by the Governor and adopted in the Board of Regents regulations last spring.

Included in the SED regulations are several key principles that King said should be included in a negotiated agreement:

  • In addition to the 20 percent of the evaluation based on a state-determined measure of student growth using state assessments, districts should have the option to also use the state assessments for the local 20 percent student performance measure;
  • Of the 60 percentage points of the evaluation based on subjective measures, 40 of those percentage points should be based on classroom observations;
  • Evaluations should be based on multiple observations which are more reliable than a single observation;
  • Evaluations must be rigorous and teachers rated “ineffective” on both the state and local measures of student performance should not be able to receive positive ratings;
  • The State Education Department should have the authority to require corrective action, including the use of independent evaluators, when districts evaluate their teachers positively regardless of students’ academic progress;
  • School districts must retain their authority to terminate non-tenured probationary teachers and should not be burdened with new bureaucratic obstacles to removing unsuccessful non-tenured probationary teachers; and
  • Appeals should be timely and expeditious.

King added that while the Board of Regents does not have the statutory authority to prescribe the evaluation appeals procedure, SED issued guidance shortly after adoption of the regulations laying out a timely and expeditious model appeals procedure that should be a model for districts to implement ( [see page 60]).