Union Shifts Position on Teacher Evaluations

Tuesday, 05 Jul 2011 10:56 AM

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CHICAGO — In what is a pivotal moment for the nation's largest teachers' union, the National Education Association affirmed for the first time that evidence of student learning must be considered in the evaluations of school teachers around the country, The New York Times reports.

The 3.2 million-member union in passing the measure hopes to become a greater influence on national efforts to hold teachers accountable for what students learn. On the flip side, the union made it clear that standardized test scores should not be used to judge teachers, a key point in federally-supported reform efforts to tack teacher pay and tenure to student performance. At least 15 states have such overhauls underway, the Times reports.

“N.E.A. is and always will be opposed to high-stakes, test-driven evaluations,” said Becky Pringle, the secretary-treasurer of the union.

With deep budget cuts across most states, and the loss of more than 30,000 members to cuts and layofss, the NEA is trying to fight efforts to diminish collective bargaining rights in several states, including Wiscosin. It is trying to walk a fine line between its hardliners who want few reforms, and growing pressure to join the debate and move policy forward.

As Dennis Van Roekel, the union president told the Times, the current political environment is “the worst environment for teachers I’ve ever seen.”

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