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State Ed to Cuomo: Reform teacher evaluation law

Two top state education leaders on Wednesday said they want to make it easier to remove teachers who receive “ineffective” ratings two years in a row under the state’s teacher evaluation system.

They also want state lawmakers to reduce the influence of local school boards and teachers unions in deciding how teachers and principals are rated.

In a letter to the Cuomo administration, Education Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch and acting Commissioner Elizabeth R. Berlin urged lawmakers to consider rewriting state laws to further streamline the process for removing teachers who have received two bad evaluations in a row.

“A teacher who has received two consecutive ineffective ratings should not be permitted to return to the classroom,” they wrote in a letter released Wednesday that detailed a long list of education proposals.

The letter, addressed to Cuomo’s director of state operations, Jim Malatras, was written in response to a request from the Cuomo administration last week for the state Board of Regents to outline its proposals to reform education.

Tisch’s proposal is the latest call for an overhaul to the state’s two-year-old evaluation system.

Cuomo earlier this week vetoed his own bill that would have created a “safety net” for some teachers rated ineffective because of how their students performed on state tests aligned to the Common Core. Instead, Cuomo said he planned to produce his own “comprehensive reforms” in the new year to strengthen teacher evaluations.

Cuomo has previously questioned the usefulness of an evaluation system in which only 0.7 percent of teachers were rated “ineffective” yet about two-thirds of third-through-eighth graders have failed to reach proficiency levels in math, reading and writing on state tests.

The letter also details proposals to streamline the disciplinary process for removing teachers, including replacing the independent contractors who serve as hearing officers with state employees who would be “held accountable for strict adherence” to hearing timelines.

“Our response proposes reforms to reward excellence in teaching; strengthen teacher evaluation, improve preparation of new teachers; and, when necessary, streamline the ability to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom,” Tisch and Berlin wrote.

Tisch and Berlin also recommended that the state adopt a new policy that would prohibit students from being assigned two teachers in a row with ineffective ratings.

email: djgee@buffnews.com