In a move that the state teacher’s union called a “reset button,” the state Legislature and Gov. Cuomo agreed to delay implementation of Common Core standards as part of teacher evaluations for two years last week — but only for poorly-rated teachers.
“The short-term safety net around evaluation consequences proposed by the governor and legislative leadership should relieve anxiety while preserving a multiple measures evaluation system that includes student performance,” state Education Commissioner John King said in a statement.
The deal was a big win for the state teachers union, who had fought the implementation of Common Core as part of evaluations, alleging that the rollout of the new standards was flawed and teachers should not be judged on them until the system has time to take root. Cuomo agreed. State tests account for 20 percent of teacher evaluations, according to state law.
Karen Magee, the new president of the New York State United Teachers, praised the deal, which will cover about 11,000 teachers statewide ranged “ineffective” or “developing.” Earlier this year, the state exempted Common Core testing from students’ transcripts until 2018.
The bill did not meet much objection. It passed the Assembly with only one dissenting vote — that of Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Suffolk County). The Senate agreed to it unanimously.
“I am pleased that one of the 2014 end-of-session highlights is a common-sense reform of how the controversial Common Core learning standards will be applied in evaluating New York State’s teachers and principals,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), a member of the Education Committee. “Passage of this legislation means that the students, parents, teachers and administrators in my district who have repeatedly expressed concerns about this issue have been heard loud and clear.”
Opponents of the change were furious.
“It’s a victory for the teachers’ union and a tragedy for our kids. Our kids got screwed again,” said Mona Davids of the NYC Parents Union, who further alleged that the move was due to it being an election year.
Some, including opponents of Common Core, said they did not believe it would change much at all.
“It won’t affect anyone in my building,” said Arthur Goldstein, UFT chapter leader at Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows, who noted the deal only covers elementary and middle school teachers. “I think there are very few teachers rated ineffective due to Common Core. What they did was put a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.”
He believes testing itself is not a valid way of grading teachers.
“There are things I would argue are more important than test scores,” Goldstein said, arguing that the entire debate comes out of what he believes is unwarranted concern over bad teachers. “There is no such crisis. People are whipped up into a frenzy over it.”
The deal does not put the $292 million in federal funding the state received in jeopardy — which was a concern because federal education officials warned the funding could be pulled if the state did not adopt Common Core, which is strongly supported by the Obama administration, into its evaluations.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made it clear he backs the deal, saying late last week that it maintains “New York’s commitment to be leaders in education reform and ensure that schools across the state can continue to build on the significant progress they have made over the past four years.”