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Teacher evaluation deal coming

ALBANY -- Officials in Albany are preparing to announce a deal this afternoon on a system to
evaluate the performance of public school teachers based, in part, on student performance on
standardized tests.

The expected agreement comes after intense talks in recent weeks between the state education
department and the New York State United Teachers union.

Sources close to the talks say there is always the possibility that last-minute snags could
delay a deal. If that happens, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has threatened that today is the deadline
for the sides to get an agreement; if not, he said he will submit later today his own teacher
evaluation plan into his proposed 2012 state budget proposal.Officials with Cuomo's office, as
well as the state Education Department and NYSUT, either declined comment or were unavailable
this morning.

Richard Iannuzzi, president of NYSUT, said in a hallway interview at 11am: “I think we’re very, very close. I think by noon it will be done.’’

The NYSUT leader declined to provide details, but said the final deal will contain more “rigor’’ in the evaluation standards than a 2010 law that first set the teacher evaluation standards.

“The highlights will be everybody will say New York’s students are better off and New York’s teachers are better off,’’ Iannuzzi said.

He said the talks are down to “words.’’

“And I don’t expect there to be any differences in those last couple of words,’’ he said.

The state already enacted a teacher evaluation system in 2010, including a provision that 20
percent of a teacher's performance rating be based on student achievements on state-written
standardized tests. But Cuomo last year insisted on stronger provisions that could end up
having 40 percent of teacher evaluations based on the state tests. The Board of Regents, the
chief education policy-setting body for the state, went along with Cuomo's plan, which led
NYSUT to take the matter to court.

The final deal is expected to keep the original 20 percent standardized testing piece in
place, and set new criteria for how districts can use student testing -- including
examinations developed that can vary by locality or use of state-provided tests -- for the
other 20 percent.

Sources close to the talks this morning said final details were still being negotiated as of
9:30 a.m. after an all-night session by the sides; the student testing components, though, had
been resolved and locked down.

"But until everything is done it can still all blow up," one source close to the talks said
this morning.

In a radio interview on Albany-based WGDJ, Cuomo said no final deal has been made yet.
"Conversations are still going on, and they have been basically all night," Cuomo said.

A major sticking point the last several days has been how to resolve a nasty battle, including over the appeal rights of teachers.The state was already awarded $700 million by the federal government for its 2010 teacher evaluation deal. The federal education department has threatened that it might want the money returned if an evaluation plan is not implemented.Cuomo has proposed in his budget to hold back promised 4 percent state aid increases in the coming year to any of the state's 700 districts that don't agree to the components of the teacher evaluation system that is expected to be announced today.


An announcement of the deal is scheduled for 12:15 at the Capitol.

Iannuzzi later this morning said the near “imminent’’ deal will settle the lawsuit that NYSUT brought last year against the change imposed by the Regents to the 2010 evaluation law.

The NYSUT president said there were discussions about Cuomo’s threat to kill promised 4 percent aid hikes if districts and unions do not strike deals by January on the global settlement being announced this afternoon. “We kept that out of the conversations because this needed to be a conversation about student quality and teacher quality,’’ he said.

 -- Tom Precious

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |