February 9, 2012
Across the state, school districts are inching toward teacher evaluation deals one week before a deadline Gov. Andrew Cuomo set last month.
According to NYSUT, the state teachers union, 100 school districts have agreed on how to put new evaluations in place and 400 districts “report making progress.” That leaves just over 200 districts that, like New York City, are nowhere near agreeing with their local unions on new evaluation systems.
Cuomo said last month that if districts do not settle on new evaluations by next week, he would use the budget amendment process to change the state evaluation law. Last year, in a hint of what the changes might entail, the governor pushed state policy-makers to double test scores’ weight, from 20 to 40 percent, in an action that drew a successful legal challenge from the union.
But even as districts fall in line with Cuomo’s ultimatum, NYSUT is redoubling its commitment to limiting the weight of student test scores in new evaluations. Today, NYSUT released the results of a poll, conducted for it by Hart Research Associates, that found that most parents statewide did not want to see test scores count for more than 20 percent of teacher evaluations, the minimum amount allowed under state law.
The poll, of 773 parents from across the state, found that three-quarters of New York parents think highly of the general quality of teachers in their local schools and that 64 percent think there is already too much emphasis on test scores.
In New York City, where little progress has been reported in recently reopened talks over teacher evaluations, the dispute has not been over the role of test scores. Instead, the local impasse has focused on appeals procedures for teachers who receive low ratings.