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Cuomo says he would revisit strengthening of teacher evaluations

Governor Andrew Cuomo is pictured during a press

Governor Andrew Cuomo is pictured during a press conference regarding Long Island water quality and storm resiliency at St. John's University Oakdale Campus Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who four months ago eased rules for teachers' job evaluations, this week announced plans to tighten those regulations if he wins re-election next week.

Cuomo's vow to strengthen sanctions for underperforming teachers, as well as incentives for superior performance, was made Monday during a meeting with the Daily News' editorial board. A governor's campaign spokesman, Peter Kauffmann, confirmed the accuracy of remarks reported in Tuesday's Daily News.

Cuomo said his planned changes, involving "real performance measures with some competition," would help break what he called the "monopoly" of traditional public education. The governor referred to competition from charter schools, which receive public funding but are run by independent boards.

An administration official, who asked not to be named, cited as an example of incentives a Cuomo proposal from January that would reward good teachers with up to $20,000 in extra annual compensation.

New York State United Teachers, the state's largest educators' union, Tuesday rejected Cuomo's claim that public schools were a monopoly. The union indicated it would push next year for changes in state law further reducing use of student test scores in assessing teachers' effectiveness.

"Students are more than a test score, and the state's policies must reflect that," said Andrew Pallotta, the union's executive vice president.

Cuomo, seeking a second four-year term, has received generally high marks from editorial writers for his fiscal management of the state. But he has taken a beating from some, including those at the Daily News, for a recent policy switch on teacher evaluations.

In May 2011, the governor pressured the state Board of Regents to toughen evaluations by doubling to 40 percent the portion of teachers' ratings based on test scores. In June of this year, the governor backtracked, joining lawmakers in clamping a two-year moratorium on using scores as evidence to fire poorly rated teachers. Instead, such teachers will be given second job assessments based solely on non-test criteria, such as supervisors' classroom observations.

The switch followed statewide protests by teachers and parents against a rollout of new, tougher tests tied to the Common Core academic standards that many said was rushed.

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