WASHINGTON, D.C. — National Education Association delegates will decide in July whether to put the union stamp of approval on the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers, according to Education Week.

Union officials have drafted a policy statement that supports the use of “valid, reliable, high-quality standardized tests,” in combination with other measures, to gauge teacher performance, Education Week reported, but it will be up to delegates from across the country to approve, modify or reject it at the union’s national assembly.

“We have multiple states struggling with these issues,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel told Education Week. “Members want NEA to speak up and lead in this discussion.”

Julia Koppich, a San Francisco-based consultant who has written extensively on unions’ engagement in education reform, told Education Week that the announcement was both promising and disappointing. It shows willingness by the union to discuss reform, but the statement itself includes a number of caveats, she said, Education Week reported.

The statement said evaluations also should take into account lesson plans, classroom observations, teacher-created assessments, teacher professional development and other factors besides student test scores, according to Education Week. Van Roekel also told Education Week that current standardized tests are not designed to measure teacher effectiveness and that alternatives must be crafted.

State and local affiliates are not bound by national policy statements, according to Education Week.

SOURCE:
Education Week, “NEA Leaders Propose Teacher-Evaluation Shift,” May 11, 2011 (Subscription required)

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A Meritorious Idea: Oscoda Schools Pioneers Teacher Evaluation Program

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