View Full Version : Local News Massachusetts Teachers Union to embrace use of student test scores in teachers evaluations

12-22-2010, 10:52 AM
This from the Boston Globe (http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/mcas/articles/2010/12/21/boston_union_to_embrace_use_of_student_test_scores _in_teacher_evaluations/?page=full) by Noah Bierman:
The state’s largest teachers’ union, embracing a concept shunned by many educators, plans to offer a proposal today to use student test scores to help judge which teachers deserve promotions and which ones should be fired.

The report from the Massachusetts Teachers Association, to be released at a state Board of Education meeting, positions the union as an active participant — and an unusual one, for a labor organization — in pushing an issue that is highly polarizing among teachers.

Many teachers unions around the country, including the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, have opposed efforts to include standardized tests such as the MCAS in firing decisions, arguing that such tests fail to capture the full range of learning experiences and penalize teachers charged with educating students from challenging backgrounds. But the association says that the change is inevitable and that teachers would be better off shaping it.

“We have to be the architects of reform, rather than the subject of it,’’ said Paul Toner, the union’s president. “We have always said we’re not here to protect bad teachers.’’

President Obama and others who favor using more testing and data to inform what goes on in schools argue that standardized tests are a direct and effective way to hold teachers accountable.

The debate over using test scores to measure teacher performance has heated up since the Obama administration made it a priority in a grant competition, worth hundreds of millions of dollars to states that win them, including Massachusetts.

Unions in a handful of other states have lent support to state laws, passed in hope of winning federal funding, that require tying test scores to evaluations. Massachusetts did not pass such a law, though it did promise in its federal Race to the Top application to use student test scores to help assess teachers. A state committee, which includes union representatives, is now working to craft how those evaluations would work.

But the Massachusetts Teachers Association may be the first union to write its own plan.

Paul Reville, the state secretary of education, said that while he may disagree with some specifics in the union’s proposal, he wanted to praise the union for staking out a position, “rather than sit on the sidelines and try to poke holes in it.’’

read more>> (http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/mcas/articles/2010/12/21/boston_union_to_embrace_use_of_student_test_scores _in_teacher_evaluations/?page=full)