ALBANY The state Board of Regents voted Tuesday to delay Common Core graduation requirements for five years, but a change to the state's teacher-evaluation system was tabled until April after it was criticized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The 17-member board Tuesday voted to adopt 18 changes to the state's management of the Common Core, a tougher set of education standards first implemented in New York last year. Now, the class of 2022 -- this year's fourth-graders -- will be the first to face the Common Core requirements for graduation, rather than the current year's class of ninth-graders.
The slate of changes was widely expected to be approved after they were green-lighted at a committee meeting Monday attended by 15 of 17 Regents. But a vote to allow teachers to use poor implementation of Common Core as a defense in firing proceedings was abruptly delayed after Cuomo called it a "roadblock."
Regents Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar said the teacher-evaluation proposal "raised a great deal of discussion regarding its implications and consequences from teachers, the Legislature and the governor's office."
"To give everyone a chance to better understand and gauge the correct path to follow, we are putting that recommendation out for comment," Bottar said. "This recommendation does not require immediate action and allowing for public comment will enhance the public deliberations."
Parents, teachers and students have lodged widespread criticism of the state's implementation of the standards. Cuomo took to the radio airwaves Tuesday to knock the Regents for their handling of the Common Core, blaming the board for the highly criticized rollout of the standards across the state.
He said the now-delayed plan to tweak the teacher-evaluation process amounted to a delay. Cuomo pushed for changes to the state's evaluation system in 2011 and in 2012 linked an increase in state aid to each school district's ability to get an evaluation process in place.
"They said we'll have a teacher evaluation system," Cuomo said on public radio's "The Capitol Pressroom." "Well, we're still waiting for a teacher evaluation system, and every year there's another excuse and another problem."
About half of the changes adopted by the Regents take effect immediately, including the delay of graduation requirements. Until the class of 2022, students will be able to graduate with a score of 65 on Regents exams. After that, it will require a score of 75 on the English language arts exam and 80 on math.
Other changes require approval by the U.S. Education Department, including a proposal to allow severely disabled students to be assessed based on their "instructional level" and not their age. Some -- including a plan to create a native language arts test for Spanish-speaking students -- would need state aid to implement.
Others will be subject to a 45-day comment period before they are permanently adopted. A temporary ban on standardized tests for kindergarten through second-grade students was implemented Tuesday, but will be put to the board for permanent adoption in April.
State lawmakers and Cuomo could recommend further changes -- or scale others back -- through legislation. Cuomo has appointed a panel to make legislative recommendations before June. Legislative leaders and the New York State United Teachers union have proposed a moratorium on using Common Core-based tests for evaluating teachers and placing students.
The legislative session runs through late June.
Maria Neira, the teachers union vice president, said the union was "disappointed" the Regents backed away from the teacher-evaluation proposal in the face of criticism from Cuomo. But the union believes the right to use a botched Common Core rollout as a defense for low evaluation scores is permitted under state law, anyway.
"We were disappointed in the sense that the Regents didn't stick to their original thinking," Neira said. "But this is a provision that is already in the law, so it doesn't change the process for us."
Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan, R-Nassau County, who had previously backed a call for a two-year moratorium if the Regents' plan didn't go far enough, said lawmakers in the Senate will soon discuss what further steps need to be taken legislatively.
"To me, this is an indication that (the Regents) listened, and they clearly advanced the plan that they said they would do," Flanagan said of the Regents' action Tuesday. "I had an expectation that this would be less than what it is, and on the positive side they talked about at least four or five things that we had advanced from our hearings."