The New York State Education Department is looking to put off the implementation of new teacher evaluations for school districts, moving it from this September to November 2016, citing the current deadline as "unrealistic."
The November 15 deadline was set by the Education Department for new teacher and principal evaluations for the almost 700 school districts in the state as part of a set of education policy changes approved by the state and Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year. Without implementing the evaluations, districts could lose state aid.
However, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch called the deadline "unrealistic" after hearing concerns from a number of school districts that are worried they will not be able to have a plan in place by that date, reports Joseph Spector for The Ithaca Journal.
"They're concerned about the very tight time frame, and they're right," Tisch said. "And I'm worried about the fiscal implications for districts that can't meet that deadline. Students should not be denied resources because of adult disagreements."
The department is set to work with Cuomo's office in order to ensure that the new deadline is "consistent with the intent of the law." Alphonso David, Cuomo's council, said:
"The law is clear that the additional state funding is linked to a teacher evaluation system, just like last year," David said in a statement. "The state Education Department and Chancellor Tisch should do their job properly and competently and enact the regulations governing the process by the end of June as prescribed by the law."
David went on to say that a hardship exemption is provided within the law for districts who are unable to meet the deadline, but "that is the exception not the rule."
The deadline came as part of a package introduced by Cuomo to implement tougher teacher evaluations as almost 200 schools in the state have been labeled "failing."
Meanwhile, the new evaluations are meeting criticism from the teachers' unions and their allies as they protest the harsher rules. Cuomo would like to see the evaluations tied to student test scores, although that could be hard after just last week saw over 160,000 students in grades three through eight opted out of the state English and math exams.
Tisch maintains that the state Education Department still plans to have a new evaluation system in place in the state as of the end of this June. However, school districts will still be given a year to meet the new requirements, which need to be negotiated with local teachers' unions.
"Our students deserve the best education we can give them, and a well-thought out, effective evaluation system is integral to providing that education," Tisch said. "We'll continue our work to develop a fair, effective evaluation plan by June 30."