Albany torn over protecting teachers from Common Core

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ALBANY -- Legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday remained undecided on how to minimize the impact of the Common Core on teachers' job evaluations without losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid.

“That’s part of it, how we stay within federal guidelines, continue to keep federal money, and yet deal with the reality that the roll out of Common Core was flawed,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Twenty percent of a teacher’s job evaluation -- which can lead to merit pay, better assignments or dismissal -- may be based on student performance under the more demanding academic standards of the Common Core. The state’s introduction of the tougher, national standards into public schools was met with outrage by some parents and teachers who saw even good students struggle. However, some administrators have praised the new standards as effective and long overdue.

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The legislative session is scheduled to end Thursday.

The state has already postponed the use of scores from Common Core-based tests from impacting students. But those same scores can still be used in part to evaluate teachers.

Although Cuomo and legislative leaders had no agreement on a solution, they directed plenty of blame at the state Board of Regents and state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr.

 “The reason we are in this situation is because the Board of Regents and Mr. King didn’t handle it,” Cuomo said.  “These are problems that developed from the improper rollout of the Common Core, in my opinion.”

“The rollout of the Common Core was, what should I say? Wasn’t appropriate,” said Silver. He said leaders are trying to deal with the consequences now.

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“We dealt with them for students, how do you deal with them for teachers, who are supposed to be evaluated based on student performance which, now, student performance doesn’t count?” Silver said.

The Board of Regents and King said that even when students scores based on the Common Core were used in evaluations last year, just 1 percent of teachers were rated ineffective.

“We can’t sacrifice the urgency of the moment,” said Dennis Tompkins, spokesman for the commissioner appointed by the Board of Regents. “The goal remains the same: make sure every student in New York is prepared for success in college, careers, and life. The Common Core Standards and a strong teacher evaluation system will help us reach that goal.”

 “We’ll continue to work with the governor and the Legislature to support districts' implementation of both the Common Core and the evaluation system -- and protect the state’s Race to the Top funding,” Tompkins said.

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