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SED, NYSUT agree at last

New teacher evaluations will be used as a tool by districts and the state to determine the effectiveness of teachers in the classroom.

New teacher evaluations will be used as a tool by districts and the state to determine the effectiveness of teachers in the classroom.

— After months of bitter dispute, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that the New York State Education Department (SED) and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) have finally reached an agreement regarding teacher evaluations. The compromise comes on the day the governor had set as a deadline in his January budget address to come up with a system; otherwise Cuomo himself would devise one.

“Today's agreement puts in place a groundbreaking new statewide teacher evaluation system that will put students first and make New York a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement,” Cuomo said. “This agreement is exactly what is needed to transform our state's public education system, and I am pleased that by working together and putting the needs of students ahead of politics we were able to reach this agreement.”

The agreement

According to the governor’s office, details of the plan are as follows:

Teacher performance — 60 points

The majority of the evaluation of each teacher — 60 percent — will be based on “rigorous and nationally recognized measures of teacher performance,” according to a press release from the governor’s office. Most of those points will be based on classroom observations conducted by an administrator or principal; at least one of those observations will be unannounced.

“The classroom evaluations will make up about 40 percent of that sixty,” said Stanley Finkle, assistant superintendent for instruction for the North Syracuse Central School District. Finkle said North Syracuse has actually been working with NYSUT to pilot its version of the new evaluation system since 2011. North Syracuse is one of five districts statewide to test the system, along with Albany, Hempstead, Marlboro and Plattsburgh, as well as the state of Rhode Island. Those districts were part of the team that helped to develop the teaching standards that would be prioritized as part of the new evaluations statewide.

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