09/20/2011 03:35 pm ET Updated Nov 20, 2011

Dennis Van Roekel: The National Education Association's Plan for Teacher Accountability

This piece comes to us courtesy of Education Nation’s The Learning Curve blog. Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, writes.

This summer, the National Education Association took a historic vote and adopted a new policy statement. It put us on the record, for the first time, as calling for a comprehensive overhaul of both teacher evaluation and accountability systems to improve professional practice and advance student learning.

Why now?

The myopic focus of the current education reform debate promotes lowering professional standards, finding quick and cheap ways to rate teachers based solely on tests, and making it easier to fire “bad” teachers while lowering the bar to enter the profession.

The irony is that teachers themselves have long complained that evaluation systems are broken. They have been some of the most forceful advocates for better evaluations linked to meaningful feedback and support. What’s been missing is sufficient guidance – developed by and for teachers – to help navigate this challenging and complicated environment.

The policy statement is an opportunity for NEA and our members to assert ourselves in a debate that has been raging for years. We know that current systems for teacher evaluation and accountability can be improved, but too often in the past we have simply taken a defensive posture, trying to prevent damaging policies instead of promoting those that will actually raise student achievement.

We have heard all of the bad ideas. Now it’s time for us to take the lead, and draw on our experience to propose policies that will actually work for students. This is our profession and our responsibility.

This piece has been truncated. Read the full piece at Education Nation's The Learning Curve.