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Lawmakers vote to end mandate linking state tests and teacher evals

Lawmakers vote to end mandate linking state tests and teacher evals

The legislation now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk
Lawmakers vote to end mandate linking state tests and teacher evals
Photographer: Shutterstock

State lawmakers on Wednesday voted to strip the state mandate that controversial math and English test scores be used in annual teacher and principal performance evaluations.

The link between student test scores and teacher evaluations, enshrined in laws passed in 2015, fueled a statewide opt-out movement that encouraged around 20 percent of students in the state to refuse taking the third- through eighth-grade tests in recent years.

New York State United Teachers, a state teachers union, cheered passage of the legislation that ended the practice, arguing it returns to local districts the ability to develop teacher evaluation programs that best fit the needs of districts and teachers.

“We look forward to making sure this bill is signed into law immediately,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said, in a prepared statement.

The legislation, which passed both the Senate and Assembly on Wednesday, eliminated a requirement that has not been in effect in recent years, after the Board of Regents imposed a moratorium on use of the annual English and math test results. But lawmakers and teachers have long called for legislation that would write the mandate out of law.

“This bill gives our dedicated teachers in public education the freedom to do what they do best: help our children succeed,” Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, said as he voted for the legislation.

The bill directs the state education commissioner to establish a process for districts to select alternative tests or measures of student performance – such as portfolios of students' work – to use in teacher evaluations.

The legislation did maintain a good deal of the structure of the state’s teacher evaluation system, which outlines how measures of student progress, an assessment of some form, and observations of teachers in the classroom mix to create a performance score for teachers. The legislation still leaves some of the details to be worked out by Education Department officials and the Board of Regents.

“We will continue to advocate for a meaningful assessment system for New York students that will measure student progress more accurately and address the concerns raised by teachers and parents alike,” Pallotta said in the union’s statement.

The legislation will now go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for his approval.

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