States strengthening teacher evaluation standards

By KIMBERLY HEFLING | November 18, 2011 | 4:05 AM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The way teachers and principals are evaluated is fundamentally changing across the country. There's a growing emphasis on exchanging automatic check-the-box "satisfactory" ratings for proof that students are actually learning.

The National Council on Teacher Quality says that two years ago, four states had student achievement as a predominant influence in how teacher performance is assessed compared with 13 today. An additional 10 states today count student achievement as a significant factor in teacher evaluations.

The Obama administration has used incentives to help propel the changes. Teachers unions historically opposed such changes. They are more on board now but still have many concerns about evaluation systems being rolled out.