Anticipation and fall are in the air, as they always are when school reopens. But this year, add trepidation among teachers as the state Department of Education implements a new protocol for evaluating them.

The department has begun to phase in the use of standardized test results in teacher evaluations. Eventually, the department will weight those scores as 50 percent of each evaluation.

Last week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, an advocate of using test scores in evaluations, announced a one-year delay in requiring that as a precursor to federal grant eligibility.

"I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools - oxygen that is needed for a healthy transition to higher standards, improved systems for data, better aligned assessments, teacher professional developments, evaluation, support and more," Mr. Duncan wrote. "There's a whole world of skills that tests can never touch that are vital to students' success."

Pennsylvania's evaluations won't fully be implemented until three full years of data are collected. The formula includes: student test scores, 50 percent; the school's performance profile, a compilation of data that includes schoolwide performance on standardized tests, 15 percent; teacher-specific student growth over three years, 15 percent; and data designated by each local school district, 20 percent.

Over time, the data should guide the state on the best mix of elements to fairly evaluate teachers. Test results clearly should be a part of evaluations, but the question is to what degree.