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Skelos: Senate isn't ruling out 2-year delay of teacher evals under Common Core

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), seen

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), seen on March 20, 2013, said he awaits the recommendation of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s commission to evaluate the roll out of the Common Core and recommend changes. (Credit: Office of the Governor)

ALBANY -- Senate co-leader Dean Skelos said Monday that he won't rule out joining the Assembly in a bill that would delay teacher evaluations for two years under the Common Core curriculum, setting up a possible legislative fight with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over the heated issue.

Cuomo refuses to delay the teacher evaluations. He has created a commission with members of the Senate and Assembly to reshape the rollout of the national Common Core to raise academic standards and improve instruction.

"The governor has a commission and we're going to see what those recommendations are," Skelos said, refusing to dismiss the Assembly's effort. "Then we'll make a decision."

The Common Core is a national initiative to raise standards so students can better compete with counterparts in other countries.

Education experts support the higher standards. But the implementation in New York has drawn angry reactions from parents and teachers. They said neither they nor students were adequately prepared for the tougher course work and tests that will be used in part to evaluate educators.

Cuomo is seeking public support in his own bid to delay implementation of the Common Core by the state Education Department.

"While the state's new Common Core curriculum is heading in the right direction, testing on it is premature," Cuomo said in a statewide TV ad, paid for by his re-election campaign, that began to air this week.

"It creates anxiety and it's just unfair . . . [students'] scores should not be counted against them."

The ad comes as Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican who is considering a run against Cuomo, is referring to the troubled start of the initiative as "Cuomo's Common Core."

The Assembly bill that would delay teacher evaluations is sponsored by Education Committee chairwoman Catherine Nolan (D-Queens) and co-sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).

"People weren't ready for it, students weren't ready for it, teachers weren't ready for it," Silver said Monday.

The measure cites low scores in the spring of 2013, when students first took tests aligned with Common Core standards.

Such test scores are used in the state's new evaluation system for teachers and principals.

Cuomo, who is making teacher evaluations a major element of his re-election campaign this year, had no comment Monday.

With Yancey Roy

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