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Education Department tries to ease testing worries

There’s been a movement in recent years to end routine “satisfactory”-checked teacher evaluations and replace them with evaluations that better reflect whether students are actually learning. Evaluations can decide critical issues such as pay, tenure, firings, and the awarding of teaching licenses.

The Obama administration offered states incentives, including the waivers and Race to the Top grant money, to encourage this shift.

The same incentives also encouraged the adoption of more rigorous, college- and career-ready education standards, and Common Core fit the bill. The Common Core standards spell out what reading and math skills students should master at each grade level and have been adopted by most states.

But transitioning to the Common Core has been a huge effort, and teachers’ unions and some other education leaders have asked for more time to implement the standards effectively before the exams count toward accountability measures.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, praised Duncan’s decision.

“I’m glad he did a paean to teachers,” Weingarten said in a statement. “They never get enough respect and acknowledgement for the Herculean efforts they have made in the last few years.”

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which works to end the “misuses and flaws” of standardized testing, released a statement saying Duncan’s announcement “fails to address the real problems.”

The move “only offers to suspend testing consequences for educators, not for students and schools, even though all education stakeholders are scheduled to be evaluated by the same, unproven new exams,” the group said. “And, it offers a delay of only one year, when even the Gates Foundation proposed two years.”

© 2014, The Associated Press, with additional reporting from eSchool Media.

See also:

Top ed-tech stories to watch: Online testing looms

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