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N.Y. Teachers Could Contest Evaluation Rating Tied to Common Core

Teachers in New York state may be able to contest a dismissal for performance by arguing that a school district didn't provide enough support to implement the Common Core State Standards, under a new policy up for approval tomorrow.

It passed a preliminary vote Feb. 10 by the state's Board of Regents as part of a comprehensive plan of "options" for easing the rocky rollout of the standards in the Empire State.

The move responds to teachers' complaints about being graded on new, harder common-core-aligned tests, which students in the state bombed during the first administration in 2012-13. Those results prompted much outrage among parents, and have led the state teachers' union to take a hardline stance against the state's commissioner, John King.

While the new policy is not as strong as the three-year moratorium on consequences from the new tests New York State United Teachers has sought, it is nevertheless a concession of sorts.  

The policy states: 

"Provide that if a school district seeks to terminate an educator based on an ineffective rating resulting from student performance on Common Core assessments administered in the 2012-13 and/or 2013-14 school years, he or she may raise as a defense an alleged failure by the board of education to timely implement the Common Core by providing adequate professional development, guidance on curriculum, or other necessary supports to the educator during those school years." 

It isn't entirely clear how this policy would dovetail with existing laws on teacher dismissal in the Empire State; to my knowledge, board policy of this nature does not actually create new law. And it also isn't a guarantee that simply by using this defense, a teacher could avoid being fired. So it will be fascinating to see how district and union legal teams make sense of this, if and when the issue arises in their jurisdiction. 

In total, the Regents' report has 19 proposals related to common-core implementation, so you'll want to read my colleague Andrew Ujifusa's full write-up over at the State EdWatch blog. 

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