Idaho Education Association members were among 8,000 delegates who recently put the National Education Association on record with a powerful, first-ever call for comprehensive overhaul of both teacher evaluation and accountability systems to advance student learning.

Delegates to the 2011 NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago adopted a Policy Statement on Teacher Evaluation and Accountability. Passed by a majority vote on our nation's birthday July 4, the statement's ratification allows NEA and IEA leaders and members to move forward with a clear and concise statement of beliefs and positions on key policy issues. It also puts educators and our allies in a better position to fight the attacks of special interests groups and “reformers” who continue to unfairly target educators, privatize public education, and disregard the voice of students and educators.

“Idaho delegates were proud to be part of this groundbreaking decision,” said IEA President Sherri Wood, who led Idaho’s delegation to the national convention a few weeks before her July 29 retirement. “We’ve seen here in Idaho how educators and parents can work together to find real, meaningful ways to improve our public schools, and the IEA will continue moving in that direction.”

“NEA members have stated loud and clear that they will no longer allow the voice of educators to be silenced and marginalized by people who don't have a clue what teaching is,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “This policy statement puts NEA on the record in calling for a comprehensive overhaul of both teacher evaluation and accountability systems and it affords the association's members the opportunity to take responsibility for ensuring the development, implementation, and enforcement of these high quality systems.”

The newly-adopted policy lays out rigorous standards and delineates the multiple indicators of teacher practice that must be taken into account. Clearly articulating the link between teacher accountability and student success, the statement defines an appropriate evaluation system and gives the context for how such assessments should incorporate student assessment indicators into teacher evaluation.

The statement reflects the importance of maintaining high standards, not lowering them; robust evaluations by highly qualified evaluators using multiple indicators, not a single narrow metric; and ensuring that when a teacher distinguishes herself or himself and attains career status, it is a meaningful event.

“NEA has made it abundantly clear where we stand and what we know is best for our profession and its practice,” said NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle. “This statement is a giant step forward and we invite districts and administrators to join us at the table to find common ground and workable solutions based on the principles our members have outlined in this policy statement.”

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