Gov. Cuomo rejects teacher evaluation change

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a measure he introduced that would have temporarily protected New York teachers from receiving potentially career-ending evaluations because of low Common Core-aligned student test scores.

In his veto message late Monday, Cuomo called the bill unnecessary because recently released 2013-2014 evaluations rated fewer than 1 percent of teachers ineffective. He said those results were "not an accurate assessment" and that he would propose changes to strengthen the statewide evaluation system next year.

"These temporary provisions do not fix the foundational issues with the teacher evaluation system," Cuomo wrote in his veto message. "Given what we know now, it would make no sense to sign this bill and further inflate these already inflated ratings."

New York's largest teachers union accused Cuomo of reneging on an agreement that he announced in June.

"We can't understand why he is refusing to sign his own bill," a statement from New York State United Teachers said. "What has changed?"

The state's 2012 teacher evaluation law requires that educators be classified annually as highly effective, effective, ineffective or developing based on a score of 1-100. Twenty percent of the score must be based on state measures of student growth, such as performance on standardized tests. Another 20 percent must come from local measures of student growth and 60 percent from subjective measures like classroom observation.

Teachers and principals who receive two consecutive failing evaluations could be fired.

The vetoed agreement would have allowed teachers and principals who were rated ineffective or developing to have their scores recalculated to exclude student performance on statewide math and English tests given in grades 3 through 8. The measure would have applied to 2013-14 and 2014-15 evaluations to allow for the alignment of standardized tests with the more rigorous Common Core learning standards, a set of guidelines adopted by most states intended to better prepare students for college and careers.

Student scores on standardized tests have plummeted in New York during the two years that they have been aligned with the Common Core, strengthening widespread criticism of the way the standards have been rolled out.

"With this veto, the governor has decided that teachers are the only ones who should be held accountable for the state's failed implementation of the Common Core," the NYSUT statement said.

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