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Secretary Duncan Speaks to Teachers about New School Year
posted by: Alix | September 04, 2012, 04:38 PM   

As students and teachers begin a new school year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently told a group of more than 800 teachers that "teaching is hard work." In setting the tone for the 2012-2013 academic year, Secretary Duncan challenged educators and commented that teaching has become more difficult as education reforms take hold in classrooms across the country.

Duncan spoke frankly about the changes that teachers will face as states implement rigorous academic standards and introduce new evaluation systems. These changes are necessary, he noted, because nearly 25% of America's youth don't graduate from high school, and about half of all students who go to community college need remedial education.

The Secretary explained how the Obama administration has promoted flexibility in states in exchange for raising standards, setting performance targets, and designing local interventions that focus closely on the neediest children through No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers. "We won't change those numbers without high standards and high expectations," Duncan said.

He went on to tell the crowd:

"We also asked states to come up with a better way to support teachers and principals. Look at annual student growth rather than proficiency — and use other measures of effectiveness – like classroom observation, peer review, and parent and student feedback.

We further encouraged states to develop new ways to support and evaluate teachers in all subjects –the arts, foreign languages, science, history, and physical education.

We didn't eliminate testing because we believe it is important to measure progress. We need to know who is ahead and who is behind – who is succeeding and who needs more support. In an ideal world, that data should also drive instruction and drive useful professional development.

We fully understand that standardized tests don't capture all of the subtle qualities of successful teaching. That's why we call for multiple measures in evaluating teachers."

Secretary Duncan also spoke about the ongoing conversation about teacher evaluation that now includes a full range of issues including teacher preparation, professional development, career ladders, tenure, and compensation.

President Obama and his administration will most likely highlight their education agenda and accomplishments during this week's Democratic National Convention. Visit the AAE blog later in the week for coverage.

Click here to watch the full video of the speech.

What do you think about Secretary Duncan's message to teachers?
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