NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Teachers Unions Oppose Teacher Accountability Standards in Common Core

November 12, 2014

Proposed reforms to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) threaten teacher accountability, argue Research Associate Helm MacNeil Dobbins and Senior Research Fellow Lloyd Bentsen in a report from the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Common Core is a set of national standards that individual states can adopt, outlining what students should know at the end of each grade. While the vast majority of states have adopted the standards, Indiana and Pennsylvania made headlines after withdrawing from the program. Alabama and Arizona are currently trying to withdraw, and Texas, Alaska, Nebraska and Virginia have not adopted the standards at all.

The CCSS are controversial for a number of reasons, including allegations that the program is a product of federal overreach. But lately, opposition to the CCSS has come from teachers' unions, who are trying to remove its teacher accountability provisions. As Dobbins and Bentsen explain, teacher evaluations are tied to student outcomes on CCSS exams, and those whose students do not succeed on the exams can be rated "ineffective." Student performance is responsible for 40 percent of a teacher's rating, while the other 60 percent comes from classroom observations. Unions have objected to these accountability standards:

  • At their national convention, the American Federation of Teachers argued for rewriting the standards and removing the testing measurements that link teacher accountability to student performance.
  • President of the National Education Association Eskelsen Garcia has called value-added measures the "mark of the devil."
  • Tennessee union leaders have objected to the teacher evaluation portion of the CCSS and have filed a lawsuit on those grounds.

Dobbins and Bentsen contend that student performance and teacher accountability should be linked, writing that removing value-added accountability measures will only hurt students.

Source: Helm MacNeil Dobbins and Lloyd Bentsen, "A Hidden Cost of Common Core: Teacher Accountability," National Center for Policy Analysis, November 12, 2014.    


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