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Long IslandEducation

U.S. report: NY schools progressing well

A school classroom. (2012)

A school classroom. (2012) Photo Credit: John Paraskevas

New York ranks well among states in its progress toward meeting national academic goals despite a recent setback in establishing teacher evaluation systems, U.S. education officials said Friday.

New York placed among the five top states in using federal "Race to the Top" grant money to upgrade academic standards in a federal assessment released this morning. The other states listed were Delaware, Florida, Ohio and Massachusetts.

"New York has made encouraging progress toward implementing its plan, and we want to see that growth accelerate," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a prepared statement. "We will continue to work closely with New York to ensure they are enacting reforms that will improve student achievement and empower teachers to prepare all students for college and careers."

The announcement dealt only with a dozen states that have obtained major funding under the Race to the Top program -- the signature education initiative of President Barack Obama's administration. Each state was assessed on how well it had met its educational goals during the first half of the program, covering 2010-11 and 2011-12.

During a telephone news conference Thursday, some reporters from New York City newspapers challenged the federal officials' informal ranking.

The reporters cited last week's failure of New York City and its teachers union to agree on a plan for evaluating the extent to which teachers are boosting achievement among the city's 1.1 million schoolchildren.

As a result of that failure, New York City will lose an estimated $340 million in state aid. The city also risks loss of an additional $256 million in Race to the Top money.

Agreements by states and their school districts to toughen evaluation of teachers' job performance were a major factor in the awarding of federal funds.

In response to reporters' questions, federal officials noted that their latest assessment of state progress focused primarily on a period that ended in June.

Those officials added that a team from the U.S. Education Department had visited New York City as recently as last week to check on the teacher evaluation issue, and that the agency continues to watch the situation closely.

Aides to Duncan who participated in yesterday's briefing stipulated that their names not be used and that their statements not be released until Friday.

New York State school officials said Thursday that they expect progress to accelerate now that 99 percent of districts statewide and on Long Island have teacher evaluation plans in place.

"We are on track to fulfill our Race to the Top commitments," Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said.

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