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Cuomo’s Education Retreat

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A case study in how unions undermine teacher accountability.

Wall Street Journal
December 27, 2015

The latest federal education reform sends more power back to states and local districts, but that poses risks to the extent they are captured by teachers unions. Witness New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo is retreating on teacher accountability.

In a bid to snag Race to the Top funds in 2010, New York adopted Common Core standards and required that 20% of teacher evaluations be based on student scores on state tests and another 20% on local objective measures of student learning. Student scores on the tougher new tests plunged. Proficiency dropped to 31% in reading and math in 2013 from 69% and 82%, respectively, in 2009.

Yet even as student measures plunged, local school districts in cahoots with the unions rigged evaluations to ensure that nearly all teachers got good marks. One tactic: Unions collectively bargained for easier local tests to be part of their evaluations. Lo, 96% of teachers statewide were rated “effective” or “highly effective” last year while only about a third of students passed state reading and math tests.

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