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Minnesota explores new test to evaluate teachers

In October we discussed Minnesota's efforts to institute a consistent policy for evaluating teachers' performance. The state has struggled with how to ensure that teachers get adequate feedback and remain on the right track in their employment.

Starting during the 2014-2015 school year, Minnesota teachers will be evaluated annually under a new state law. However, policymakers are still working out the details of how these evaluations will look and what factors will affect a teacher's performance and score.

While experts grapple with those questions, some educators in Minnesota are using a new test to evaluate aspiring teachers, which could prove to be a useful tool in improving teacher performance and providing feedback. The edTPA, which stands for Teacher Performance Assessment, involves filming teachers and students in the classroom and using that footage to get an accurate picture of performance.

While some hail the test, developed at Stanford University, as an important step in evaluating teachers fairly and keeping them accountable, some skeptics have concerns. They argue that it is costly, time-consuming and unproven. The test has not been around long enough to offer much data on how effectively it predicts teachers' performance/

Despite these concerns, it seems promising. Starting next year, performance on the edTPA will be considered in the state's approval of teacher education programs. The test could eventually replace more traditional testing methods as a requirement for a reaching license.

If you are a teacher and have a concern about a human resources issue, job evaluation or employment rights, consider consulting an employment law attorney with experience in related matters. They can help you navigate legal and administrate issues unique to your position and seek the best possible outcome for your case and your career.

Source: The Pioneer Press, "New teacher test gauges work in front of classroom," Mila Koumpilova, Nov. 24, 2012

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