By Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — The State Board of Regents adopted tougher new teacher and principal evaluation standards Monday that they hope can be in place by the coming school year.
The revised rules, unveiled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday, put more emphasis on state tests and set higher standards for good grades. The evaluations are set to play a key role in promotions and firing decisions, officials said.
The new timeline is a win for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has spent recent months vigorously lobbying to replace the state's 'Last in, first out' seniority-based teacher firing policy with one based on merit ahead of a massive layoff plan.
"With the help of our partners in the field, we have taken a critical step today in developing a fair and equitable system for evaluating the performance of New York’s teachers and principals a system that will enhance the quality of education across the State," Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a statement.
Under the new rules, teachers and principals will be rated as "highly effective," "effective," "developing," or "ineffective." Evaluations will be based 40 percent on objective measures like test scores and 60 percent on subjective measures like classroom observation.
The department will immediately issue a request for evaluation plans, it said.
But United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said the focus on testing goes too far.
"The more weight put on standardized tests for children or teachers, the more school systems will focus on test prep rather than real learning. Our children deserve a real, balanced education, not a strategy designed only to raise test scores," he said in a statement.
The board also voted Monday to elect Dr. John King Jr. the state's new Education Commissioner.
King will be taking over from Education Commissioner David Steiner, who announced his resignation the same day that former Schools Chancellor Cathie Black stepped down. Steiner signed the waivers that allowed both Black and new Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to serve.
King, the current Senior Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Education for the state, will be the first African-American and first Puerto Rican to hold the job, officials said.
He requested the state cut his salary from $250,000 to $212,500 in recognition of the state's financial woes, officials said.