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ATPE applaudes Commissioner's decision to seek extension of NCLB waiver and evaluation pilot
Association of Texas Professional Educators
AUSTIN, Texas — For several months, the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) has been fighting to prevent the hasty implementation of a new state teacher evaluation system that has not yet been piloted and perfected. The evaluation changes were mandated by the U.S. Department of Education as a condition for receiving a waiver of federal school accountability requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), better known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Today, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced that Commissioner of Education Michael Williams has written to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, seeking an extension of the state’s waiver and requesting an additional year for pilot studies of the new evaluation system before it must be implemented statewide.
ESEA accountability provisions, which subject schools to harsh sanctions for failing to meet outdated and unrealistic criteria, have not been updated by Congress since their initial adoption in 2001.To qualify for an ESEA waiver, TEA recently announced plans to pilot a new evaluation system in nearly 70 school districts in the upcoming school year and implement the system statewide the following year. Without an extension from the federal government, state officials will not have sufficient time to analyze data gathered from the pilot and make any necessary revisions before implementing the new evaluations statewide in the 2015-16 school year.
“We appreciate the commissioner’s decision, because ATPE has worked hard to get more flexibility and time to ensure we are adopting a teacher evaluation model that will meet the needs of educators and students,” ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey said. “We hope the Department of Education will approve the extension and give Texas more time to study the pilot results to determine what’s best for public education. The last thing we want is for a flawed evaluation system to be put into place.”
ATPE has also been working with the Texas Congressional delegation to communicate the need for more flexibility and time and to put pressure on the U.S. Department of Education to accept Texas’ request. “We hope the Department of Education in Washington will listen to educators and to our state and Congressional leaders and do the right thing for Texas students,” Godsey said.