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New York Teacher Evaluations Set For Major Change

ARMONK, N.Y. – Parents looking to find the best future teacher to request for their child shouldn't expect any help from a new state law regarding teacher evaluations.

On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill ( S07792 ) that allows parents to see only the evaluation of their child’s current teacher. Parents and the public will be able to see evaluations of other teachers in the school district, but with the names removed.

“This law strikes the right balance between a teacher's right to privacy and the parents' and public's right to know," Cuomo said in a press release.

The new law will restrict parents from matching evaluations to teachers in future grades and could eliminate parents’ ability to steer their children to specific teachers.

New York State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi called the law a win for teachers across the state.

"The governor and Legislature did the right thing by stopping the media from distorting and disseminating evaluation results," Iannuzzi said in a press release. "This bill accomplishes that goal and preserves the purpose of evaluations, which is to provide opportunity for continued growth and improvement."

Teacher evaluations were previously available to the public with full disclosure by submitting a Freedom of Information Law request. In February, the New York City Education Department released evaluations for 18,000 city schoolteachers to publications including The New York Times, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal. The release sparked teachers unions to ask New York legislators for stricter laws regarding the disclosure of their evaluations.

The legislation does not restrict parents from sharing their child's teacher's evaluation online or with other parents directly.

In addition to the new disclosure law, which takes effect July 1, Cuomo announced an agreement in February with the state Education Department and the teachers union, New York State United Teachers, on a new system for evaluation guidelines.

The new system will grade teachers on a 100-point system. According to the agreement, 60 points of the assessment will be determined by classroom performance in which most of the assessment will be classroom observations by an administrator. Under the policy, at least one observation will be unannounced.

The remaining 40 points will be determined by student achievement in state and local assessments. Districts have the option of using 20 points from the state test and 20 from the district’s choice of either a third-party assessment or a district-specific test or project to be approved by the state Education Department. School districts also have the option to use the state test for the entire 40 points.

As of Friday, June 22, no school district in Westchester County had submitted a local evaluation plan to be approved by the state Education Department, according to Cuomo’s website. District plans must be approved by Jan. 17, 2013, when the evaluation system goes into effect.