Capitol Notes

Schools still waiting for Cuomo to act on teacher evaluations

About two months have passed since state education officials asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo to officially suspend teacher evaluation requirements, and he still hasn’t made a public decision.

On The Capitol Pressroom in April, interim Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe said a prompt decision was needed and contended that it would be “impossible” to conduct evaluations, since in-person instructions had been cancelled since the middle of March. The call to waive this year’s requirements was roundly backed by stakeholders in the education sector.

The lack of action by the governor is confusing, according to Bob Lowry, deputy director for the New York State Council of School Superintendents.

“The need is clear,” Lowry said. “With the disruptions in regular instruction, administrators could not complete all the observations that their approved (evaluation) plans call for and how could the measures of student achievement be valid? Also, some evaluation plans incorporate state assessments which were not given this year.”

Andy Pallotta, president of NYSUT, said they’ve reached the point in the calendar that without sate guidance school districts may look to enter into agreements that would push tenure decisions off for another year.

“Penalizing hard-working educators this way because not all evaluation metrics could be completed before school buildings shut down is simply the wrong approach,” Pallotta said. “We agree with the state Education Department and Chancellor (Betty) Rosa that the state should temporarily suspend APPR and allow school districts to make local tenure decisions based on the evaluation information they have on hand already. Education never stopped. The state must recognize that fact.”

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