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Teacher leaders recommend overhaul of evaluation and accountability

NEA focused squarely on student success and ‘true profession’ with highest standards

WASHINGTON - May 11, 2011 -

Signaling a commitment to a new, more prestigious profession of teaching, the National Education Association (NEA) is calling on its members to set a course to overhaul teacher evaluation and accountability and advance student learning.

Based on recommendations of a workgroup of NEA leaders convened this spring by NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, the NEA Board of Directors has approved for final action a policy statement that revamps teacher evaluation and accountability. The statement reflects the first broad endorsement by NEA of the need for evaluation and accountability reform.

Delegates to the 2011 Representative Assembly, NEA’s highest policy-making body, will vote on the statement in July.

“As more states and districts seek to improve teacher evaluation, the risk is that reform is done to teachers rather than with them,” said Van Roekel. “This policy statement on teacher evaluation and accountability was written by and for teachers while heeding others’ expertise as well. It outlines a system to help teachers improve instruction and meet students’ needs. It offers sweeping changes to build a true profession of teaching that is focused on high expectations. This is what our members want from NEA—and we answered with a fresh vision for the teaching profession grounded in ideas that are realistic, doable, and will ensure that every student has access to a high quality teacher.”

The NEA policy statement reaffirms that tenure or career status should not be automatic, but earned. It states that career status should reflect the fact that a teacher has met or exceeded standards of professional practice. And it recognizes that if a teacher fails to meet expectations, after being given a reasonable opportunity to improve, that person should be counseled out of the profession or be subject to a swift and fair dismissal process.

Many teacher evaluation and accountability systems are in need of reform. This policy statement recognizes that creating robust systems requires the involvement of many stakeholders, and it affirms that all teachers are responsible both for providing students with a high quality education and continuously enhancing their own practice. It also states that teachers have the responsibility to stay current in subject matter and pedagogy to ensure that they can provide students the best instruction possible.

In addition, the policy statement calls for regular evaluations of all teachers that are based on multiple indicators of student learning and growth. And the statement supports the limited use of standardized tests in such evaluations if the tests are valid, reliable and high quality measures of student learning and growth.

Further highlights of the policy statement include:

  • a call for high quality teacher evaluation systems that provide regular, comprehensive, meaningful and fair evaluations by trained evaluators, based on multiple indicators that include teacher practice, teacher growth and contributions to student learning. Evaluation systems should be adequately funded and staffed. Such systems should provide teachers with ongoing feedback on their practice as well as time for the collaboration so critical to identifying and correcting instructional difficulties.
  • a call for high quality teacher accountability systems that recognize the responsibilities of all teachers to provide high quality instruction and to continually update their knowledge and skills. Such systems should hold all teachers accountable for meeting the standards of the teaching profession and provide them with the tools they need to do so, including notice and a limited period of time in which to remedy any deficiencies identified in a teacher's practice.

“These are not easy topics, and we know that our leaders and members will discuss them carefully this summer at our Annual Meeting. They deserve that discussion because their voices have been silenced by too many policymakers in too many states,” said Van Roekel. “The time is right to take back our profession, and we believe that our members will be eager to seize the opportunity to change the conversation from how to shortcut quality to how to make teaching and public schools extraordinary for our students.”

For more on NEA’s Proposed Policy Statement, visit:

For President Van Roekel's Angle on Education on the proposed policy statement, visit:

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee 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:  Anitrá Speight  (202) 822-7823,