Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

ALBANY - Most New Yorkers in a new poll strongly support firing teachers after they are repeatedly deemed “ineffective.”

The Siena College Research Institute on Monday found 59 percent of voters support allowing school districts to fire teachers who are rated ineffective two years in a row. That number jumps to 67 percent if a teacher is rated ineffective three years in a row.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Legislature wrestled with Cuomo’s proposal to make job evaluations tougher for teachers. The governor had sought to make student performance on standardized tests worth 50 percent of the evaluations, in addition to classroom observation by principals and other factors.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The state’s teachers unions with great influence in the Legislature have opposed Cuomo who would use the test scores to judge teachers, but not use them in students’ grades or in promotion to another grade. The unions, with some support by independent researchers, argue the tests are not accurate measures of instruction, because so many other factors including poverty and home life factor into a student’s ability to learn.

More than two-thirds of voters said test scores should account for no more than 25 percent of a teacher evaluation.

In the state budget adopted in March, a compromise resulted that will include several additional measures of teacher performance, a new weighted measure to include student test scores, and evaluation from educators outside a teacher’s school. Some details are still being developed.

Cuomo has argued past evaluations with less emphasis on student performance resulted in more than 95 percent of teachers rated effective or highly effective, which he said shows the evaluations were too easy.

The poll questioned 785 registered voters April 19-23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.