Take more time using testing results for evaluations, U.S. education secretary Duncan says
Saying that testing is "sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools," U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan today said his department would ease its rules on using test results in teacher evaluations.
Tying ratings to scores has been part of the federal government's requirement for states to waive other mandates. Florida began doing so a couple of years ago.
Duncan said it's time to step back and reassess:
"States will have the opportunity to request a delay in when test results matter for teacher evaluation during this transition. As we always have, we’ll work with them in a spirit of flexibility to develop a plan that works, but typically I’d expect this to mean that states that request this delay will push back by one year (to 2015-16) the time when student growth measures based on new state assessments become part of their evaluation systems – and we will work with states seeking other areas of flexibility as well. We want to make sure that they are still sharing growth data with their teachers, and still moving forward on the other critical pieces of evaluation systems that provide useful feedback to educators. We will be working in concert with other educators and leaders to get this right."
Response has been swift. AFT president Randi Weingarten, for one, welcomed a change in the administration's rhetoric about testing.
"The department’s admission today that testing has gone too far is a good step, if there is a real course-correction that is linked to concrete action and not just words," she said.
"And that concrete action can start today with a stroke of a pen through the waiver process. We shouldn't be testing every child, every year. We need assessments that meaningfully measure student learning. We need to invest the time and resources wasted on excessive and unhelpful testing back into art and music and other enriching curriculum. And we need a new accountability system that moves from a test-and-punish model to a support-and-improve model. The overtesting this administration has too often championed has sapped our students and our classrooms of the joy of learning. We need to restore that joy now."
Read more on the issue from the NY Times.