After less than two years on the job, State Education Commissioner David Steiner is stepping down at the end of the year.
He has been in charge of New York's schools and the state university system since 2009.
Steiner drew fire back in November for granting a waiver that paved the way for Cathie Black to become the city's schools chancellor.
However, he said Thursday that his departure had nothing to do with Black's situation.
In a statement, Steiner said, in part, "I am immensely proud of the reforms we've achieved: guiding New York's successful Race to the Top application, designing a new teacher and school leader evaluation system, reforming teacher preparation, and implementing a tough re-setting of our 3 to 8 tests. With the anticipated approval of a final teacher evaluation program, I intend to leave the State Department of Education later this year."
"Commissioner Steiner about four weeks ago approached me," said State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. "He said to me, 'Merryl, I have led our policy vision in New York State now for two years. We're coming to the end of my second school year, my second legislative session, and my heart tells me that my work isn't really in policy.' I said, 'David, it pains me greatly but I do understand your need to be involved in academia.'"
Before taking the job, Steiner was the dean of the Hunter College School of Education at the City University of New York.
When he became the state's education commissioner he said his goal was to make the department a hub of innovation and best practices to boost student achievement.
Steiner is expected to stay on for the transition of Cathie Black to Dennis Walcott, who will also need a waiver to become schools chancellor since he does not have a formal superintendent's license.
It will be up to the state Board of Regents to select a new commissioner.