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NEA on the Department’s Student-centered Flexibility: A step in the right direction

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel: We must get it right

WASHINGTON - June 18, 2013 -

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today invited every state to apply for flexibility to stop double-testing students during implementation of the common core state standards. The Department also is allowing the 37 states that have gotten waivers from parts of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to apply for flexibility in using student achievement to evaluate teachers.

The National Education Association issued the following statement today from its president, Dennis Van Roekel:

“We applaud the Department of Education for this common-sense flexibility that will allow educators and students to focus primarily on teaching and learning rather than high-stakes standardized tests. We are deeply committed to student success and we know that testing is a key part of the process, but it cannot become the primary focus. We want well-designed, timely assessments that monitor individual student performance and progress across a range of subjects and skills. This flexibility will ensure that as new and better assessments are being field tested and piloted, students are not forced to take outdated state tests as well. Without this flexibility, students will be wasting precious time taking unnecessary tests.

“We must take the necessary time to get it right. If we want a system that is designed to help all students, we must allow educators, parents, students and communities to be a part of the process and have a stronger voice in the conversation.

“The NEA and its members have called for an end to the high stakes testing consequences for students and educators for some time, particularly during the common core transition period. In April we filed a federal lawsuit along with the Florida Education Association challenging the evaluation of teachers based on the standardized test scores of students they do not teach or based on subjects they do not teach. We all have a lot to learn about how to validly and appropriately include student performance data in educators’ evaluations and we must take the necessary steps to safeguard the credibility of educator support and evaluation systems.”

“Again, we must get it right. We must remain open to ideas, especially those that are driven by evidence. And we should especially focus on ideas that will help our lowest achieving students stay in school, be inspired, learn, achieve, and graduate to become productive members in our democratic society.

“Today’s announcement by the Department of Education is a step in the right direction.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 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,