Teaching Profession

NEA Strengthens Opposition to Tests in Teacher Evaluation

By Stephen Sawchuk — July 07, 2014 2 min read
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In 2011, the National Education Association passed a policy statement on teacher evaluation, aiming to influence the policy conversation about revamped systems.

At that time, the big question was whether NEA might consider allowing “value added” or test-score data to make up one component of such reviews. An early version of the policy opened the door in that direction, but before that resolution ever hit the floor of the Representative Assembly, it was significantly watered down. The final version established a catch-22 of sorts, saying that tests could only be used if they met multiple, hard-to-define criteria.

Now, the NEA has essentially closed, bolted, and put three padlocks on the door.

Tip of the Hat to union watchdog and critic Mike Antonucci for noting that, on the final day of the 2014 Representative Assembly, NEA members approved yet another change to the evaluation language, this time making it abundantly clear that standardized tests can never be used.

The new language says that “standardized tests, even if deemed valid and reliable, may not be used to support any employment action against a teacher.”

To be fair, at least two NEA state affiliates have sued over the test-score-based portions of evaluations, stating they’re based on students teachers may never have taught. It’s also fully in line with incoming NEA President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia’s priorities, which include pushing back far harder on testing. In an interview with my colleague Liana Heitin, she called testing “the most corrupting influence over what it means to teach and what it means to learn.”

The NEA also recently approved a $100,000 publicity effort to end “toxic testing.” (That sounds like a lot of money, but remember, this is an organization that spent $343 million in 2012-13.)

You can read the changes to the statement in full below:


Adopted as Amended

Amend by deletion and addition on pages 16-17, lines 53-54 and 1-3, in section (iii):

and teacher defined objectives for individual student growth.; and high High quality developmentally appropriate, standardized tests that provide valid, reliable, timely and meaningful information regarding student learning and growthmay be used for quality, formative evaluation. Unless such tests are shown to be developmentally appropriate, 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 non-evaluative formative feedback.Standardized tests, even if deemed valid and reliable, may not be used to support any employment action against a teacher.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.