The New York State Senate today passed a crucial education reform bill that helps ensure teachers and their students will continue to succeed in the classroom. The bill (S8992), sponsored by Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District), achieves a complete repeal of annual professional performance reviews (APPR) connected to student test scores, accelerates the timeframe on tenure to allow good teachers to remain in the classroom, gives students another tool to fight discrimination and bullying, and reconfigures the distribution of the state’s charter school openings to meet ongoing demand to provide more students with a first-class education.
Senator Flanagan said, “This bill is the best way forward to achieve a complete repeal of APPR and permanently decouple student test scores from teacher evaluations. It succeeds where other proposals fail in helping our teachers put their focus back on the students and away from standardized tests. We also address significant issues facing children and parents across the state as they seek safe, nurturing environments in which to learn and grow. We need our legislative colleagues to step up and take action so that these important measures become law as soon as possible.”
The bill’s key provision addresses concerns raised by teachers, the “Opt-Out” movement, and others since the beginning of the standardized testing mandate. It takes a comprehensive approach to decoupling the APPR from standardized tests by requiring performance evaluations to be determined on the local level through collective bargaining – not test scores. The legislation also:
- rewards qualified teachers and administrators by helping them achieve tenure quicker, reducing the probationary period for all positions by one year;
- addresses concerns expressed by educators and administrators about other education reform proposals’ potential to increase student testing and instead requires performance reviews to be based on collective bargaining agreements;
- makes permanent the provision preventing standardized test scores from being recorded on a students’ permanent record;
- combats bullying and discrimination in public schools by allowing public school students to bring cases of discrimination to the state’s Division of Human Rights;
- modifies school equivalency requirements for school curriculum reviews; and
- expands the regional charter school cap and allows more charter schools to be opened in New York City, where nearly 50,000 children are on wait lists for the opportunity to attend charter schools, among other provisions.
The bill will be sent to the Assembly.