Pennsylvania Teachers Call for End to VAM

At the annual meeting of Pennsylvania AFT, the leaders of the union called on the legislature to eliminate the test-based teacher evaluation system. Because of the inducements offered by Race to the Top, almost every state spent many millions to design a new teacher evaluation process, based on Arne Duncan’s insistence that such a system would weed out “bad” teachers. Behind that assumption is the wacky belief that bad teachers cause low test scores.

Last year, the first year of the new system, 98.2% of teachers were rated satisfactory or higher.

This year, 97% of Pittsburgh’s teachers were rated proficient or distinguished. The statewide figures for this year are not yet available.

“AFT Pennsylvania president Ted Kirsch said, “The law was based on a false narrative that low-performing schools exist primarily because of ineffective teachers, which is not the case. There are many factors involved in student success that are not given the proper weight under Pennsylvania’s new teacher evaluation system. The result is a system that gives high marks to educators working in well-funded schools with few disadvantaged students and penalizes teachers who take the tough assignments in under-funded schools with large concentrations of students from low-income families or with special needs or English language learners.”

“The release stated the delegates want a system that is “transparent and understandable by teachers and the community“ and is “primarily a professional growth system that supports teachers in their development and differentiates evaluation for new and experienced teachers to ensure that new teachers who are in need of support are not driven away.”

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