More New York news: Teacher evaluation quarrels

Andrew Cuomo is not considered an education reform governor, but the Democratic leader of the Empire State has taken some bold stands in reining in education spending (by a billion bucks) ? even if it was courage born of necessity.? After caving in on Last-in-First-Out (LIFO) in March (see here), the new governor came back on Friday with a letter to the state's Board of Regents Chancellor, Merryl Tisch, asking for a tougher teacher evaluation system than the one the Regents had first proposed -- and which the Regents (having just hired John King as Commissioner (see here), will take up this afternoon.

According to the letter, Cuomo wants the Regents, who answer, officially, to the State Legislature not the Governor, to make ?comprehensive changes? to the evaluation plan, including:

? Increase the percentage of statewide objective data, like measuring student growth on statewide test scores, used to evaluate teacher performance;

? Impose rigorous classroom observation and other subjective measures standards on school districts when evaluating teacher performance;

? Require a positive teacher evaluation rating be given only when the teacher receives a combined positive rating on both subjective and objective measures, such as student growth on statewide tests; and,

? Accelerate the implementation of the evaluation system.

Though the devil is in the details, which Cuomo provides in his letter, there seems little doubt, as the Albany Times Union put it, ?that the letter puts him ?on course for clash with teachers,? whose powerful union was able to water down implementation metrics on the much heralded evaluation settlement negotiated to help win a $700 million Race to the Top prize last year.

If interested, you can watch the Regents discussion this afternoon, beginning at 4:45, at??http://usny.nysed.gov/webcasts.html*

--Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow

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*At 6:30pm the Regents voted to pass the proposal as submitted by the Commissioner and his team -- counting student achievement scores as 20% of a teacher's evaluation -- rejecting both Cuomo's proposal** for making tests count more and Linda Darling Hammond and nine colleagues' request to give them less weight.? But see also Gotham School's more complete report, here; Cuomo had more of an impact than I first thought.

**As the Times reports (May 17), the Regents passed the evaluation proposal 14 to 3 and did, in fact, increase the weight of student test results, from 20% to up to 40%, in the evaluation procedure.

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