Defying Cuomo, Assembly bill would delay Common Core teacher evaluations

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen here in a Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen here in a July 18, 2013 photo, is pressing for a state law that would base 20 percent of a teacher's or principal's evaluation on student achievements on standardized tests. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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ALBANY -- Defying Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, state Assembly Democrats are drafting a bill that would delay teacher evaluations conducted under the new Common Core curriculum for two years.

The Democrats are expected to discuss the proposal in a closed-door conference Monday and perhaps vote on it later in the week, said a source who wished to remain anonymous.

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Importantly, the introduction of the bill would come a week before the state Legislature is slated to appoint four members to the state Board of Regents, New York's education policymaking board.

Rank-and-file legislators said recently they might take the highly unusual step of opposing incumbent Regents if implementation of the Common Core wasn't slowed down.

It wasn't immediately clear if the politically split Senate would support the Assembly bill.

According to a draft of the proposal obtained by Newsday, the bill would "prohibit Common Core aligned assessments from being a factor in a teacher's or principal's . . . composite effectiveness score" for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.

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Under a state law championed by Cuomo, 20 percent of a teacher's or principal's evaluation is based on student achievements on standardized tests.

The Regents themselves proposed such a two-year delay in February -- but immediately dropped the idea after Cuomo criticized them for potentially "stalling" teacher evaluations.

The bill will be sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Assemb. Cathy Nolan (D-Queens).

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A Silver spokesman declined comment Friday.

The bill also, according to the draft, would "prohibit school district from making promotion or placement decisions for students based solely or primarily on their grades 3-8" English and math exam scores. Further, it would ban those exam results from becoming part of a student's permanent record or official transcript.

Recently, Senate co-leaders Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) and Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan (R-East Northport) signed a letter calling Regents to postpone "the use of Common Core tests for high-stakes decisions about teachers, principals and students for a minimum of two years."

Silver called for the same, but taking the step of introducing a bill heightens the conflict with the board and the governor.

Flanagan declined to comment Friday on the bill.

A Cuomo spokesman declined comment but referred to the governor's previous remarks. When the Regents initially proposed delaying the new teacher evaluation system, Cuomo said: "I get that they don't want to do it. The teachers don't want an evaluation system. My problem is, the people of the state want the teacher evaluation system implemented."

  

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