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Sources: Deal in works to delay part of Common Core

Students take notes during a lecture on May

Students take notes during a lecture on May 1, 2013. Credit: Heather Walsh

ALBANY -- A deal is being negotiated to place a two-year moratorium on the use of student tests based on the Common Core for grade promotion in public schools.

New York City schools and a handful of districts statewide have used the standardized tests under Common Core for grades 3 through 8 as a factor in promoting students to the next grade. The deal would delay that use for two years, but would allow the tests to continue to be used in job evaluations of teachers and principals, said two state officials Tuesday night. The officials insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the closed-door negotiations.

The agreement also would prohibit other school districts from choosing to use the standardized tests for grade promotion, the officials said.

Those details are the framework of a deal, the officials told Newsday, and an agreement is likely. The issue is being discussed in state budget negotiations between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Senate and Assembly leaders.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver confirmed leaders are talking about a response to Common Core, but he wouldn't elaborate.

"We are discussing doing something before the first round of tests, which I think is April 3, so probably within the budget," Silver told reporters after a two-hour meeting with Cuomo and Senate leaders behind closed doors.

Silver said he's unsure how many issues related to Common Core could be decided in the budget. "We don't know, we're discussing it," Silver said.

The state budget is due by midnight Monday and an agreement is expected this week.

The Assembly, Senate and Cuomo have sought to intervene in what they said has been a flawed rollout of Common Core, which is being adopted nationwide as part of an effort to improve instruction to make American students more competitive with counterparts in other countries.

Cuomo has sought a two-year moratorium on using test scores in students' grades, but wanted to use the testing as part of the job evaluations of teachers and principals.

Some parents, teachers and students have complained in meetings statewide that the Common Core was forced on schools by the state Education Department before teachers and students were prepared for the higher standards.

How much impact the prospective deal would have in classrooms was unclear Tuesday night.

The state Board of Regents, which sets education policy, already decided in February to advise school districts against using results of Common Core tests in decisions regarding students' promotion and class placement.

Education Commissioner John B. King Jr., in a letter Monday to district superintendents statewide, said the state "neither requires nor encourages districts to make promotion or placement decisions using student performance on state assessments in grades 3-8."

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