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HARRISBURG, PA (October 28, 2019) – Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, issued the following statement on Senate Bill 751 and House Bill 1607, legislation that reforms Pennsylvania’s educator evaluation system. Both bills were the subject of a public hearing today before the House Education Committee. Askey testified in support of them.
Senate Bill 751 and House Bill 1607 make changes to the state’s educator evaluation system by placing greater emphasis on direct classroom observation, reducing the impact of student performance measures, including standardized testing, and accounting for the effects of poverty on student achievement.
“PSEA strongly supports this reform of the educator evaluation system, and we commend the leadership of Sen. Ryan Aument and Rep. Jesse Topper on this issue,” Askey said. “We’re very hopeful that this bill will become law and improve the evaluation system for every educator in Pennsylvania.”
“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,” Askey added.
Senate Bill 751 and House Bill 1607 increase emphasis on direct classroom observation and practice from 50 percent to 70 percent of most educators’ evaluations. The remaining 30 percent relies on building-level and teacher-specific student achievement data, including student performance on standardized testing, but at a reduced weight.
The building-level data will be adjusted by a measure of poverty for each individual school building. The teacher-specific student achievement data will include student performance measures that relate directly to an educator’s practice each academic year.
“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.