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Assembly passes bill to address concerns of Common Core, teacher evals

ALBANY - The state Assembly Wednesday took a step to address concerns by some parents and teachers about standardized tests, the Common Core and teacher evaluations.

The bill, co-sponsored by Education Committee chairwoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood), seeks to undo some of the measures adopted by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature on April 1 as part of the state budget. The bill passed by a 135-1 vote.

"I am hearing from lots of parents that their kids are miserable," said Assemb. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), a parent of young children and a co-sponsor of the bill. "It's one thing to be stressed out in high school. But a stressed-out fourth-grader is another thing."

"Schools are not a business!" noted Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove).

The bill requires that standardized tests be "grade-level appropriate" to minimize the pressure on children. The bill also requires that the new teacher evaluations, which place more weight on student test scores, provide extra credit to compensate for teaching classes with impoverished students as well as those in special education and immigrants learning English for the first time.

"We want to have teachers teaching in impoverished neighborhoods, to teach children with special needs and English language learners," Kaminsky said. "If we don't take this into account, it creates a real disincentive."

The bill also would delay use of the Common Core and its higher academic standards in schools for a year and would suspend the threatened loss of state aid to schools that don't comply with deadlines set to adopt the new evaluations.

The bill now goes to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) has said he wants to make changes in the law to address the concerns of parents.


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