Lawmakers pass bill protecting teachers from high-stakes test scores


NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Teachers say they weren't given enough time to roll out the Common Core curriculum and many grew anxious knowing if their students scored poorly on the state assessments, they themselves would face consequences.

"A district like Utica where you have one-third of the population is high needs, either special needs, or speak English as a second language or not at all you could be the best teacher in the whole world but you're going to have a hard time getting those students to perform especially if their home life isn't up to par," said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi.

In the last day of the legislative session Gov. Cuomo signed a bill that will act as a temporary safety net for teachers. Students will still be tested and teachers will still be evaluated, but if a teacher falls into the category of "developing" or "ineffective," they have the option of recalculating their evaluation without the students' scores.

"This obviously offers more time for those teachers whose growth scores in grades three, eight English Language, Arts and math were the reason for an ineffective or developing. That does not mean that all teachers who receive an ineffective or developing would not fall under that regulation because if they're not involved in a three, eight testing program there may be a lot of other reasons why they're deemed ineffective," said Howard Mettelman, superintendent of Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES.

While only one percent of teachers were rated ineffective after the first year of high-stakes testing, teachers are relieved by the provision.

"It's a step in the right direction. It will bring some much needed relief," said Cherie Grant, president of the Utica Teachers Association.

The New York State Education Commissioner, John King, who has come under fire for his implementation of the curriculum responded to the bill by saying, "We have said all along that the simultaneous roll out of teacher evaluations and the Common Core implementation has been uneven across the state's 700 districts. The evaluation law was enacted in 2012 with broad support, but everyone recognized that thoughtful adjustments would be needed along the way."

The bill will sunset in two years and districts will go back to the original evaluation system.

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