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Cuomo asks for state review of LI teacher evaluations after Newsday analysis

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking at

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking at Farmingdale State College in Farmingdale Feb. 5, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Sunday called for a state review of all Long Island school districts because many use a union-provided evaluation he said is skewed to favor teachers.

A Newsday analysis of teacher evaluation systems in Long Island public schools found that in many the portion that local districts control is weighted toward ensuring teachers score an overall "effective" rating.

Principals' judgment of teacher performance in classroom observations and other subjective criteria accounted for 60 percent of a teacher's overall 100-point evaluation, according to the Newsday analysis. The other 40 points are determined by student test performance.

"Recent news reports found that most Long Island school districts have used their local discretion in teacher evaluation systems to skew the overall scoring to ensure that their teachers are rated only 'effective' and 'highly effective,' " said Jim Malatras, the state director of operations, in a statement on behalf of Cuomo. "Most districts adopted the scoring procedures specifically drafted by the teachers unions."

Seventy of Long Island's 124 school districts use scoring ranges promoted by New York State United Teachers, the state's largest teachers union, for the classroom-observations component of job ratings, according to Newsday's analysis.

State law says the state education commissioner must ensure the local evaluations are rigorous and accurate. Cuomo's statement Sunday asked the acting commissioner if she found any concerns in reviewing the local evaluations and, if so, what action the state Education Department took.

The teachers union said the evaluations are accurate and Cuomo wants to give more weight to students' grades, which they argue are statistically questionable in evaluating teachers. Spokesmen for the New York State United Teachers union and the state Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.


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