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Pre-Convention: NEA Executives Amend Evaluation Proposal

Even before its delegates get a chance to vote on the measure, the National Education Association's board of directors has modified the union's teacher-evaluation policy proposal—qualifying what had been a seeming openness to the use of standardized-test scores as one possible gauge of teacher effectiveness.

The original statement said that high-quality standardized tests could be used as one of several indicators of a teacher's contribution to student learning. The amended statement keeps that language, but adds a new paragraph. It reads:

"Unless such tests are shown to be scientifically valid and reliable for the purpose of measuring both student learning and a teacher's performance, such tests may not be used to support any employment action against a teacher and may be used only to provide nonevaluative formative feedback."

Well. That is an order of magnitude different from the original policy proposal, and rather a high bar to meet. The union's own president, after all, told me recently he doesn't really believe a standardized test can serve both purposes.

It's not yet clear when or why the NEA's board of directors made this change. It must have occurred after the proposal was unveiled in May, but before today's "open hearing" on the proposal (which is where I got a copy with the added language).

I've got a query out to the press shop for details, so stay tuned.

UPDATE, June 30, 4:58 p.m. The open hearing just wrapped up. A couple of delegates spoke approvingly of the addition to the policy proposal.

NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle said that additional language represented a consensus on the use of test scores that the drafters came to, but didn't spell out, in the original proposal. "It was the intention all along, but the document you have now states it explicitly, not implicitly," she said.

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