Making Classrooms Work

Last summer, the U.S. Department of Education was at a crossroads. States were transitioning to the Common Core while simultaneously implementing new teacher evaluation systems, sparking frustration among parents and teachers over how these policies were intersecting on the ground. Moreover, questions lingered about the focus on tests and the amount of time devoted to test preparation in schools.

Seeking to maintain important policy gains while also addressing stakeholders’ concerns, senior officials at the department turned to the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, and other teacher engagement organizations for their perspective. The result was a smart compromise that was both a practical solution and good policy: a nationwide year-long delay in using test scores to evaluate teachers. “I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the time. He added that teachers need time to adapt to new standards and tests that emphasize more than simply filling in bubbled answers to multiple-choice questions.

This article was originally published in U.S. News & World Report.