States Given a Reprieve on Ratings of Teachers

Form The New York Times

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced on Thursday that states could delay the use of test results in teacher-performance ratings by another year, an acknowledgment, in effect, of the enormous pressures mounting on the nation’s teachers because of new academic standards and more rigorous standardized testing.

…Using language that evoked some of his fiercest critics, Mr. Duncan wrote in a blog post, “I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools,” and he added that teachers needed time to adapt to new standards and tests that emphasize more than simply filling in bubbled answers to multiple-choice questions…

…Many teachers and parents say these laws force educators to narrow their curriculums and spend too much time on test preparation…

…Critics of Mr. Duncan welcomed his shift in tone on Thursday, but they also called on him to go further than a simple one-year delay.

“They should stop requiring the use of test scores in teacher evaluation altogether,” said Anthony Cody, a former teacher and a founder of the Network for Public Education, a political action group. He added that the federal government should have less say in how teachers and schools operate. “Local school districts should have autonomy to figure out how best to evaluate their schools, their school districts and their teachers,” he said.

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