Assemblymember Al Taylor: Let Teachers Teach so Students Can Learn

Legislation gives control of teacher evaluations back to local school districts

Assemblymember Al Taylor passed legislation to remove the mandate that state-created or administered assessments be used for teacher and principal evaluations, thus allowing local school districts to adopt evaluation systems best suited to the needs of their communities (A.783). Although the Assembly passed the measure last year, the state Senate did not take it up. With new Senate leadership in Albany this year, the legislation is poised to become law. 

The legislation brings critical change to the teacher evaluation system in New York schools, as teachers’ or principals’ evaluations would no longer be determined by students’ performance on state-created or administered assessments, such as the grades three through eight English Language Arts (ELA) and Math tests. The bill accomplishes this by eliminating a state mandate, which sparked widespread anger in December 2015 and was put on hold for four years.[1] Assemblymember Taylor believes the bill, with its passing by the Senate, will allow teachers to craft lesson plans that are most effective for their students rather than following a cookie-cutter approach that leaves some of young learners behind.

Under the bill, the New York State Commissioner of Education would be required to promulgate regulations providing alternative assessments for districts that choose not to use state assessments. The selection and use of assessments would be subject to collective bargaining. All teachers would be required to have a student learning objective (SLO) consistent with a goal-setting process determined or developed by the commissioner. The legislation would also make permanent the provision prohibiting the grades three through eight ELA and Math state assessments from being included on students’ permanent records.

“The bill gives school districts to ability to determine what is best for their students,” Assemblymember Taylor said. “Standardized tests should not guide classroom instruction. It is time give teachers back the power to truly focus on the young minds they are charged with molding and inspiring for the future.”