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NYSUT files lawsuit to stop new teacher evaluations

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: NYSUT files lawsuit to stop new teacher evaluations
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The state's teacher evaluation overhaul is now facing a court challenge. The New York State United Teachers union is filing a lawsuit against the Board of Regents and State Education Commissioner John King. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman has the details.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Charging that the State Education Department and Board of Regents overstepped their bounds in adopting teacher evaluation guidelines, the state's largest teachers union filed a lawsuit in state court hoping to block the new system. The union points to the heavy weight given in the new guidelines to standardized tests.

"We are in support of using assessments, but using them appropriately. There's a place for it. Twenty percent will be on standardized assessments. That is not what's at issue here. The issue is allowing the other 20 percent of other ways to show that students are learning to be part of a fair evaluation," NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said.

Teachers unions have long opposed using standardized tests for evaluating teacher effectiveness. Instead, schools should use local evaluation criteria, such as individual student work. But state officials defend the adopted guidelines, saying they will hold up in court.

The education department, in a statement, said, "This new teacher and principal evaluation system will allow local districts to recognize and replicate teaching excellence, provide intensive professional development for teachers in need of additional support and provide a fair, objective and expedited means of removing ineffective teachers from the classroom."

The union and education officials had been working together to adopt new evaluation guidelines. But in May, Governor Andrew Cuomo recommended his own evaluation rules were approved.

"I think it's important for the governor to weigh in and he voice his opinion, but he was one of many stake holders. NYSUT was hoping that all the work of the practitioners had done on the Regents task force would have a lot more weight than one perspective," Neira said.

The legislature approved a bill in May that recommended teacher evaluations consider a variety of measures, include local assessments. The state needs the new evaluations in place in order to collect $700 million in federal Race to the Top funding. In addition to the new guidelines, the state must demonstrate it's working with labor.

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