April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Win for New York Teachers Unions: New York Delays Common Core Weighing in on Teacher Evaluations


Karen Magee, president of New York State United Teachers.  Image courtesy of NYSUT.

New York teacher’s unions scored a victory in their fight to stave off the impact of Common Core testing on teacher’s evaluations last Thursday (June 10) at the New York State Assembly in Albany where legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo reached an agreement—later passed in a bill by both houses—that New York, an early adopter of Common Core standards, would delay the impact of Common Core test scores on teacher’s evaluations for the school year ending (2013-2014) and the upcoming school year (2014-2015), according to the New York Times.

“I would say we have finally made sure our message is heard more than anything right now,” said Karen Magee, president of New York State United Teachers, according to a New York Post article on June 19.

This latest legislative consensus on teacher evaluation reform follows discouraging Common Core test results in New York in 2013. Since Common Core’s adoption in July 2010, New York Teacher’s unions have been fighting to change the impact of Common Core test scores on evaluations. According to the New York Times, “Teachers currently face the possibility of removal if they are labeled “ineffective,” the lowest rating, two years in a row.”

Cuomo and the Legislature agreed to postpone “the use of state Common Core student test results to grade teachers who’ve been rated ‘ineffective’ or ‘developing.'” (According to the New York Post.) As a result, the evaluations for low-ranked teachers will be recalculated for 2014-2015 not using Common Core exam scores. However, the test scores would still be used to evaluate teachers who were rated “effective” or “highly effective.”

The Obama administration has been a strong advocate regarding the implementation of stronger teacher’s evaluations offering federal funding to states who comply. New York state received more than $290 million dollars in education-earmarked federal funding, and earlier last week, the state appeared in danger of losing the funding after it received a warning from the U.S. Department of Education against delaying its teacher-evaluation reform. However, the just-passed bill that gave low-ranked teachers a two-year reprieve won the praise of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who said, following the deal:

“I want to commend Governor Cuomo, President Karen Magee, and the members of [the New York State United Teachers union], Commissioner King, members of the legislature and everyone involved for coming together to maintain New York’s commitment to be leaders in education reform and ensure that schools across the state can continue to build on the significant progress they have made over the past four years,” Duncan said. “By reaching agreement on how New York should move forward, they have chosen to continue the progress they have made to improve schools, raise standards, and help ensure students gain the skills they need to succeed.”

Parallel in the fight to delay using Common Core in teacher evaluations, students in New York were given a reprieve from Common Core test results going on their permanent record earlier this year following poor statewide test results in 2013.

More SLJ coverage on Common Core:
South Carolina and Oklahoma Ditch Common Core
Common Core Flip-Flop: Governor Cuomo Changes Mind About Using Common Core Test Results For Teacher Evaluations
‘More Truth-y than Truthful’: Stephen Colbert Rips Into Common Core—and Melinda Gates Tweets Back
No More Due Process for Kansas Teachers?
Carolyn Sun About Carolyn Sun

Carolyn Sun was a news editor at School Library Journal. Find her on Twitter @CarolynSSun.