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Educator: Teachers shouldn’t be judged by tests

October 18, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The new president of the National Education Association and former Utah teacher of the year said this week that the evaluation of a teacher’s effectiveness should not be directly correlated to standardized test scores

Lily Eskelsen Garcia said there is a toxic culture of testing in public schools in the United States, The Salt Lake Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1yL1UaB ). During a state education conference in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy, she told teachers to let the tests score fall where they fall.

“I’m not afraid of tests. I’m not afraid of data,” Eskelsen Garcia said. “I’m afraid of pretending that this test score means something that it doesn’t.”

In Utah, results from a statewide standardized tests are set to be released next week. They are used to evaluate school and teachers.

Eskelsen Garcia said there is an entire generation of children “who have never lived under anything except this testing obsession.”

During a panel discussion at the conference, Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said federal and state governments should have a limited role in classroom management.

“The further you are up the food chain, the less you should micromanage education,” Niederhauser said, the Tribune reports.

While acknowledging Utah is last in the county for per-pupil spending, Niederhauser said any discussions about increasing spending for education must be balanced against competing interests vying for a portion of the state budget.

But Eskelsen Garcia shot back by asking all the teachers in the room to raise their hands if they used their own money to get classroom supplies.

″″They could not run the system without our personal pocketbook dollars,” she said.

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the Utah Education Association, said teachers are hamstrung by policies set by non-educators. She said standardized test scores portray teachers as failures.

Eskelsen Garcia said many of the problems come from a flood of bad ideas from people who aren’t educators and believe they know what’s best for schools.

“We need to change the conversation,” Eskelsen Garcia said. “The whole conversation has been about how we can’t be trusted.”

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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