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Deal Reached in Albany Gives Educators Two-Year Break from Low Ratings Based on State Test Scores

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Governor Andrew Cuomo has arrived at a deal with lawmakers and the state teachers union that will give educators a two-year break from earning low ratings based on student state test scores. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

This was set to be the first year ever that city teachers would be judged, in part, by how well their students performed on state tests, but now, if a teacher's rating is bad, the state test scores won't count, at least for the next two years.

"People's lives are being judged by this instrument, so you want the instrument and evaluation to be correct," said Governor Andrew Cuomo.

But hitting the pause-button on the consequences built into the new teacher evaluation system is a significant compromise for the governor, who considers the evaluation reform among his major accomplishments.

"Do I wish none of this happened? Yes," Cuomo said.

The issue is that the new teacher evaluation system is not the only major education reform. At the same time, the state has been implementing new, more difficult standardized tests based on the new, more difficult Common Core learning standards.

So when the state came under fire for rolling out the learning standards too quickly and leaving teachers without enough support, educators said it would be unfair to evaluate them based on related test scores.

"Teachers that received scores that were not accurate will now be recalculated, as they should have been from the start, due to the flawed implementation of the Common Core," said Karen Magee, president of the state teachers union.

So for the next two years, teachers who get the lowest two ratings will then get a second score, one that doesn't involve state test results and just considers factors like the principal's observations and local tests not based on the Common Core.

Advocates in favor of both the new evaluations and learning standards said they hope this compromise will allow all the reforms to move forward, eventually.

"We're glad to see that we are finding ways that we can both invest in implementing the Common Core and maintain the integrity of teacher evaluation," said Jonathan Schleifer of Educators 4 Excellence NY.

Lawmakers still need to vote on the bill, but the leadership of both the state Senate and Assembly said they're on board.

As for city teachers? They're set to get their first ratings based on this new evaluation system later this summer.

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