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NY Teachers Aren't Crazy About Evaluations Being Based on Student Performance

Children are loaded onto a bus at Parkview Elementary School in Westville, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Police in a southern New Jersey community are looking for a bank robber who reportedly was seen in the vicinity of an elementary school. The school has been locked down and police are searching the building. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

New York State United Teachers, the largest public-school teachers union in New York, is suing the state Board of Regents over a new teacher evaluation system based off student standardized test performance.


"In court papers filed in state Supreme Court late Monday, New York State United Teachers claimed that education officials violated the law when they gave school districts the option of assigning significantly more weight to state assessments in their annual reviews of teachers.

Under the law, teachers could lose their jobs if their students continually fail to improve their scores on state standardized tests."

The law in question was signed in May 2010 and the NYSUT claims the regulations would allow school districts to double the weight for state assessments, and allow the use of student results on a single test to count for up to 40 percent of a teacher's annual evaluation. NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi takes issue with the evaluation and feels it is unfair, pointing to frequent flaws in the state's standardized tests. From NYSUT press release:

"'Using standardized tests as 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation will be bad for students and teachers alike,' said Richard Ognibene, 2008 New York State Teacher of the Year, who joined eight other teachers of the year to decry the regulations. 'Testing is an important part of our profession, but it is only part. What we do in schools is incredibly complex and much of it cannot be measured with a #2 pencil'"

Over 600,000 educators align with the NYSUT, which is also affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO. The average elementary school teacher in New York makes $62,490, secondary school $64,020, with 15 vacation weeks per year. Educators in the New York can obtain tenure after three years. WSJ:

"The state law laid out that 40% of a teacher's evaluation score would be based on student achievement measures. The union last year resisted the legislation, which was a key component of the state's winning bid for more than $700 million in federal 'Race to the Top' grants.

New York told the federal government that the reviews would start this coming school year, beginning with most math and English teachers in grades four through eight. If the legal dispute postpones those plans, it's possible the special grant money could stop flowing to New York

The union claims that the law intended for the state assessments to account for no more than 20% of a teacher's review. The remaining 20%, according to the union, was supposed to be based on other kinds of assessments, the terms of which would be subject to collective bargaining between districts and local unions. In May, though, the state school officials said districts could adopt an evaluation policy in which state assessments account for the entire 40%, instead of just 20%."

In light of the lawsuit the state still defends the law, with spokesman for the state education department saying they have followed the rules and the law creates an "objective and expedited means of removing ineffective teachers from the classroom."

A NY State Supreme Court Justice has signed an order requested by NYSUT to require the board and Commissioner John King to show why the disputed regulations shouldn't be suspended pending a ruling on whether they violate state law and the regents' authority.

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