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NEA Vice President Discusses Common Core at AEI Panel

Lily Eskelsen on teacher quality and accountability

WASHINGTON - March 27, 2013 -

NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen participated in the American Enterprise Institute event “Common Core meets the reform agenda” on Monday, March 25th. Eskelsen’s panel focused on teacher quality and accountability within Common Core State Standards.

The panel, moderated by AEI’s Michael Q. McShane, also included Ann Bonitatibus, Frederick County Public Schools; Deven Carlson, University of Oklahoma; Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts Department of Education; and Morgan Polikoff, University of Southern California. Other panel discussions centered on process and politics; charter schooling and social studies standards; and governors and state implementation.

“The momentum to reform teacher evaluation systems is growing, and educators need to be key players in these discussions and decisions,” said Eskelsen. ”But unlike NCLB, we need to ensure that accountability measures are fair. We shouldn’t rush to use assessment results for high stakes decisions.”

While most of the discussion about the Common Core State Standards Initiative has focused on its technical merits, its ability to facilitate innovation or the challenges of practical implementation, there has been little talk of how the standards fit in the larger reform ecosystem. AEI hopes the event and overall discussions will shed light on whether or not the Common Core initiative will complement or conflict with the school reform agendas that states are currently pursuing.

“NEA will work with whatever organization is working to help implement the common core state standards with fidelity because we must get this right,” said Eskelsen. “If we find that implementation is getting too hard, we cannot abandon hope for change and scrap the common core state standards. We must all do our part. NEA is working to ensure that educators are provided the resources, tools, and time to collaborate regarding their practice while implementing the common core, and assessment of student work.”

The goal of the Common Core State Standards is to provide a clear, consistent understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that young people need for success in college and careers.

“NEA has been working to ensure educator input throughout the development and implementation of the standards. As an early partner of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, we provided support for common standards and opportunities for our members to provide specific feedback on the standards themselves,” said Eskelsen. “We believe this state-led initiative has the potential to provide teachers with manageable curriculum goals and more freedom to exercise professional judgment in planning and instruction.”

AEI is a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics and social welfare. Founded in 1938, AEI's purpose is to serve leaders and the public through research and education.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 822-7823,