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AFTPA: Repeal Act 82 evaluations

AFT Pennsylvania Convention delegates called on the state legislature to repeal the state’s teacher evaluation law, which teachers maintain has been implemented inconsistently, produces unreliable rankings, promotes teaching test-taking instead of critical thinking and punishes teachers whose students have special needs.
“We welcome solid, constructive teacher evaluation,” said William Hileman, an AFT Pennsylvania vice president and author of the resolution. “But Act 82 falls short on every count. Pennsylvania children deserve qualified, effective educators, which we will not be able to provide without an evaluation system that encourages excellence by supporting professional growth.”
The legislature passed Act 82 in 2012, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education developed complex evaluation rubrics upon which high-stakes personnel decisions are made. 
“The law was based on a false narrative that low-performing schools exist primarily because of ineffective teachers, which is not the case,” said AFT Pennsylvania president Ted Kirsch. “There are many factors involved in student success that are not given the proper weight under Pennsylvania’s new teacher evaluation system. The result is a system that gives high marks to educators working in well-funded schools with few disadvantaged students and penalizes teachers who take the tough assignments in under-funded schools with large concentrations of students from low-income families, or with special needs or English-language learners.”  
The resolution said the new system relies heavily on discredited value-added data that has “large standard errors that result in unstable rankings from year to year.” In addition, it does not provide information on how to improve teaching. Instead, it drives good teachers away from high-needs schools and erodes trust among educators.
“Act 82 evaluations should not be used for high-stakes decisions related to ratings, compensation, tenure, layoffs, furloughs and recall from layoffs,” Kirsch said.
AFTPA called for the repeal of Act 82 and the replacement of relevant School Code and PDE regulations with an educator evaluation system that is transparent and understandable by teachers and the community. It urged the state to use an educator evaluation system is primarily a professional growth system that supports teachers in their development and differentiates evaluation for new and experienced teachers to ensure that new teachers who are in need of support are not driven away.
“If our goal is to recruit, develop and keep the best educators in our classrooms, we need a system that focuses on professional development throughout a teacher’s career,” Kirsch said.

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