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HARRISBURG, PA (November 18, 2019) – Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, commended the Pennsylvania House Education Committee for advancing legislation to reform the state’s educator evaluation system.
Senate Bill 751 would change the evaluation system by increasing emphasis on direct classroom observation and practice from 50 percent to 70 percent of most educators’ evaluations. The remaining 30 percent would rely on building-level and teacher-specific student achievement data. This would include student performance on standardized testing but at a reduced weight.
The building-level data would also be adjusted by a measure of poverty for each individual school building. The teacher-specific student achievement data includes student performance measures that relate directly to an educator’s practice each academic year.
“This is a major reform that will improve the evaluation system for every educator in Pennsylvania,” Askey said. “PSEA strongly supports it, and we’re very hopeful that the full House will vote on this bill soon.”
“Reducing the emphasis on standardized test results and focusing more on classroom observation will encourage educators to collaborate with each other more often and develop new and interesting approaches to their lessons,” he added.
Askey said the poverty measure would be a first for any state’s educator evaluation system.
“Poverty affects students well beyond the classroom, often hampering their health and well-being, language development, and access to books and learning opportunities,” Askey said. “Students living in poverty tend to score lower on standardized tests than students in middle-income and affluent districts. We must account for poverty if student performance is included in an educator’s evaluation.”
Askey is a Harrisburg music teacher and the president of PSEA. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 181,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.