Regents put reprieve for teachers on hold in Common Core - The Buffalo News

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Regents put reprieve for teachers on hold in Common Core

The state’s top education leaders Tuesday put a proposal to give teachers a temporary reprieve from a new teacher-evaluation system on hold after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo lambasted the plan.

The Board of Regents instead said it would gather public comments on the proposal to allow teachers who face being fired because their students did poorly on state tests in the last school year and this school year to argue that they were not properly trained in new learning standards.

“All we said was, if that’s true, then the teacher could raise it as a defense,” said Regent Robert M. Bennett. “Apparently, that raised a stir with folks, and so we said, ‘All right, let’s see what the administrators and the teachers unions and the governor and others want to say about this.’ ”

The proposal from Monday appeared headed for approval along with a package of changes that the Board of Regents and state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. believed would address concerns about the implementation of Common Core learning standards and the effects of other state efforts at education reform.

While the other proposals were adopted Tuesday by the full Board of Regents, the board put the administrative change affecting the teacher-evaluation system on hold. Both Cuomo and the president of the state’s largest teachers union had criticized the proposal Monday, although they characterized it in vastly different ways.

The Board of Regents proposal would allow teachers who faced termination because they received an “ineffective” rating on teacher evaluations due to student test results in 2012-13 and 2013-14 to argue in administrative hearings that their school district had failed to implement the new Common Core learning standards in a timely manner.

The provision would have affected only a small number of teachers. Last year, only 1 percent of the teachers were rated “ineffective” under the first year of the teacher-evaluation system.

But Cuomo on Monday blasted the Board of Regents for what he described as an attempt to “delay” the teacher-evaluation system. He repeated the criticism on the radio airwaves Tuesday for a second round of attacks on the state’s education policy-setting board.

“We’re still waiting for a teacher-evaluation system, and every year there’s another excuse,” Cuomo said of the plan approved by a Regents’ committee Monday but then put on hold by the full board Tuesday.

New York State United Teachers, meanwhile, described the proposal as “nothing new.” The union’s president, Richard C. Iannuzzi, said there is already a provision on the books that allows teachers to point out the failures of their districts in implementing the Common Core standards.

“It really was no protection in the first place,” said Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore, who noted that the proposal would not have helped teachers who lost out on promotions because of poor student scores.

The Board of Regents is moving forward with 18 other changes that it unveiled Monday in response to complaints about the way it has rolled out the new learning standards. The changes include attempts at limiting the amount of local standardized testing tied to teacher and principal evaluations, pushing back when high school students will have to meet tougher new graduation requirements, and putting a new student data system on hold until privacy concerns are addressed.

The Board of Regents needs the help of Cuomo and the State Legislature to advance its proposals that require more money. Those include $125 million for professional development and parent outreach, as well as $10 million to create a new assessment geared toward Spanish-speaking students and $8.4 million to reduce stand-alone field testing.

While education officials hoped the changes would smooth what has been described as a “flawed” rollout of the new education standards, some critics were not impressed with the proposals.

Eric Mihelbergel, a City of Tonawanda parent who helped found a statewide group opposed to the amount of testing in schools, said the Regents task force failed to address the concerns of many parents.

News Albany Bureau Chief Tom Precious contributed to this report. email:

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