Virginia Education Association’s President on The 152nd NEA Meeting

At the end of June, nearly 9,000 educators from every state will come together to address the issues facing students, schools, and teachers across America. The 152nd Annual Meeting of the The National Education Association, also known as the NEA, will take place June 26–July 6 in Denver, Colorado.

Meg Gruber is President of the Virginia Education Association. “I have taught 32 years in Prince William County as a high school science teacher. I’m finishing my second year as president, and was just recently reelected to my final two years; we are term limited; we can only run two two-year terms.”

One subject of discussion at this year’s meeting will be Common Core State Standards.  Also known as “the CCSS,” they are a set of K-12 standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. To date, 45 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to adopt the CCSS, and the standards are scheduled for full implementation in 2014.

Virginia has not adopted the Common Core State Standards. Gruber is opposed to the common core’s test driven nature. “There’s such a pressure to measure and test our students that they’re not piloting the standards to see are they good standards. You know, they’re good on paper, but are they good in practice? And there’s such a rush to implement the testing and make those tests count before they’ve ever had a chance for teachers to teach the standards.”

“Mostly what we’re looking at is a problem with implementation, of getting the standards in place, getting the curriculum that’ll be used to teach the standards in place, and most states are not taking the time to do that first and do it right before they implement the high stakes testing that measure that. So you’re seeing a backlash from this rush to implement the test before the kids have learned the standards to be tested on them.”

The National Education Association will also discuss Standardized Testing.  As Gruber indicated, high-stakes standardized tests have put undue pressure on students, teachers and schools.

“What I hope to see is that we get away from the over-emphasis on testing knowledge and that being the only way you can measure success, that one snapshot test. I hope we would get back to having good honest nonpartisan discussions about what’s best for our children.”

While Gruber is concerned about testing and poor implementation, she also said there’s a lot of good news for Virginia public schools. “Our students are doing quite well. Their SAT scores are above the national average. Our national test scores with what’s called the NAPE test in reading and math were above the national average. But also, on good news, we are looking at our standardized testing program, and our governor Terry McAuliffe just recently signed a bill into effect that will reduce the standardized testing for our students in grades 3-8 by 22% and those factual knowledge based multiple choice tests are going to be replaced with locally, teacher developed assessments that will measure what our students do with the knowledge. It will measure their critical thinking skills and their problem solving skills, which are certainly a more valuable measurement as to how well a child will be successful in adulthood. Very rarely do you ever have a job where to prove you’re doing your job you take a multiple choice test.”

For more information about standardized testing, common core state standards, and this month’s meeting, visit The National Education Association’s website:

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Megan Moriarty

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