I’ve been getting lots of queries about the NEA’s new teacher-evaluation policy, and the best way to address this is to list some of the common assertions I’m reading out there and to try to parse their “truthiness.” Without further ado:
The policy statement adds nothing new to NEA’s position on evaluations. FALSE. Your intrepid blogger dragged NEA’s 450-page handbook all the way to Chicago for just this kind of question! And under perusal, I found that current resolution D-20, which governs existing policy on teacher evaluation is fairly unspecific as to what should be reviewed in evaluations.
The new policy statement, in saying that teachers’ evaluations must include a measure of the teacher’s ability to improve student learning, is a step more specific. Also, D-20 opposes students’ scores being used for evaluation. Under the new policy statement, the door is now open on that front—although there’s a bit of a catch-22 in that no current tests meet those criteria. This resolution, and others, will have to be updated to reflect the new policy statement.
Another good example: The policy statement says that remediation before due process kicks in shouldn’t last longer than a year. I can’t find anything that specific in the existing policies.
The policy statement forces state affiliates’ hands. FALSE. Resolutions are statements of the national union’s beliefs, but not dictates. States are supposed to support them, but they’re also allowed to set their own internal policies.
If state affiliates do something not sanctioned in the national policy resolutions, they supposedly can’t get financial or other support from NEA in doing so. But President Dennis Van Roekel has loosened things up somewhat, saying he’ll support state affiliates that bargain performance pay through the Teacher Incentive Fund, for instance.
NEA’s policy doesn’t address education support personnel, such as paraprofessionals, counselors, and so on. TRUE. Those areas were outside the drafting committee’s scope of work, according to Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle.
NEA affiliates are broadly supportive of the statement. FALSE. Though the policy statement passed fairly comfortably, some state affiliates, like Michigan, did not support it. And some delegates are also unhappy.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.