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NEA President Dennis Van Roekel on Race to the Top final application

WASHINGTON - November 12, 2009 -

The U.S. Department of Education today unveiled the final regulations and application governing its $4.3 billion Race to the Top competitive grant program, which is designed to enable states to enact education reforms that improve student achievement.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel: 

“We applaud Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for taking the right steps to put a spotlight on what needs to happen in our classrooms—principally, for America’s schoolchildren.

“If done right, we believe Race to the Top grants will accelerate education reform at the state and local levels, and they will go a long way toward ensuring great public schools for every student in the long run.

“We are pleased that Race to the Top embraces the spirit of collaboration among education stakeholders needed to achieve systemic and sustainable reform efforts. In reading the final application, it is obvious that the Obama administration listened to educators, and we applaud them for recognizing the role teachers play in transforming education and preparing students by requiring states to involve teachers and principals in designing and implementing evaluation systems. This is necessary to make sure that what happens in Washington works in schools and communities across America.

“The final application rewards states that use student growth and multiple measures, and use data to improve instruction to increase the focus on professional development for teachers and continual instructional improvement rather than to only hold schools accountable. This is a solid reaffirmation of our belief that a student, like a teacher, is more than a test score.

“We are disappointed that the administration continues to focus so heavily on tying students’ test scores to individual teachers. The continuing eligibility requirement that states must not have any barriers to linking data on student achievement or growth to teachers and principals for evaluation purposes misses the mark.

“Educators are willing to accept responsibility for student learning and for being evaluated based on criteria they help develop, and we look forward to working with the administration to ensure that its goal of true multiple measures in teacher evaluation systems is realized.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823,