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Teachers Union Stands Against Standardized Tests

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The second-largest teachers union in the country is taking a stand against high-stakes standardized tests. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The second-largest teachers union in the country is taking a stand against high-stakes standardized tests. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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DETROIT (AP) — The nation’s second-largest teachers union has taken a stand against high-stakes testing, passing a resolution at its annual convention in Detroit that says the focus on standardized tests has undermined the United States’ education system.

The American Federation of Teachers approved the resolution unanimously Saturday on the second day of its convention at Cobo Center. It said testing should be used to inform and not to impede classroom instruction.

“A lot of so-called reformers try to dictate top-down, standardized test-driven strategies that are heavy on competition and short on evidence and resources,” AFT President Randi Weingarten told the 2,400 delegates in her opening address. “They don’t work.”

“What does work is to rely on the professional judgment of millions of educators who have devoted their lives to educating America’s children in our public schools,” she added.

Instead of basing teacher evaluations on the results of standardized tests, schools use multiple measures to assess teacher performance and focus on helping them improve throughout their careers, Weingarten said. She touted such a system worked out by administrators and teachers in the schools in New Haven, Conn.

“It’s a far cry from the shaming and sanctioning of teachers based on a single test score,” she said Friday.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, a teacher, were to address the convention Sunday afternoon.

The Bidens “believe that providing a high-quality education for all children is critical to America’s economic future,” Biden’s office said before the address.

The nation’s largest teachers union is the 3.2 million-member National Education Association. AFT is second with 1.5 million teachers.

United Auto Workers President Bob King spoke to the group Saturday, criticizing right-wing politics that he said have reduced funding for schools, cut support services and let class sizes grow, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“And then they turn around and they try to vilify teachers for not doing a great job in educating our kids,” King said.

In her remarks, Weingarten predicted that two years from now, the union would look back on 2012 as a time “of existential threat” that it was able to transform into “a time of renewed respect.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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