Montauk School Superintendent Jack Perna holds up a copy of...

Montauk School Superintendent Jack Perna holds up a copy of a New York State mandated teacher evaluation plan during a board meeting in Montauk. (Jan. 8, 2013) Credit: Gordon M. Grant

New plans by Long Island school districts to rate teachers' job performance have won near-universal approval in Albany, state officials said .

A total of 123 local school systems out of 124 in Nassau and Suffolk counties had obtained state approval of their evaluation plans as of 7 p.m. -- five hours before the state's deadline.

The only exception was the tiny Oysterponds district in the region's East End, which was posted on a state website as having a plan still under review. Richard Malone, the district's superintendent, voiced confidence earlier in the day that approval was imminent, though the district only recently reached final agreement on the plan with its teachers union.

"The state received our plan. They're reviewing it," Malone said. "It's done."

Oysterponds, with 71 students in prekindergarten through sixth grade, employs about 18 teachers.

Statewide, a total of 685 local districts had won state OKs for evaluation blueprints by 7 p.m. Six districts remained unapproved, including New York City, by far the state's largest, with 1.1 million students and 70,000 teachers.

The tally of approved plans marks the culmination of nearly three years of an effort to toughen teacher evaluations across the state. The system is officially known as Annual Professional Performance Review, or APPR.

For the first time, 40 percent of teachers' ratings will be based on evidence of student performance, including scores from standardized tests. The remainder will be based on more subjective criteria, including classroom observations.

Former Gov. David A. Paterson cobbled together the first agreement on evaluations in May 2010, in cooperation with state school officials and teacher-union representatives.

Last February, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pushed through a revised plan that included imposition of state-aid penalties on any districts failing to meet 's deadline.

In Albany, state Education Department staffers continued reviewing plans into the evening. Cuomo, in a message issued earlier, said districts and unions had until midnight to comply.

"Please hear me -- there will be no extensions or exceptions," the governor said.

Local school boards and union representatives both must agree to evaluation plans, a requirement that has produced friction.

The Shoreham-Wading River district, for example, did not submit a final evaluation plan to the state until Jan. 11, after obtaining the agreement of a union representing school administrators, including nine principals.

Superintendent Steven Cohen voiced satisfaction over the state's confirmation that the district plan was approved. Cohen reiterated his long-held opinion that the evaluation system was overly bureaucratic and had been pushed on districts too rapidly.

"I think it's being rolled out in an absolutely horrendous manner," Cohen said.

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