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But perhaps now that the Obama administration has not only embraced the idea but is requiring that states hoping to get a piece of the US Department of Education’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant money must be willing to link teacher evaluations to student performance, the AFT has decided they’d better get a hand in this game. “This is a real about-face, especially after they put up a firewall in New York State to prevent districts from using student test scores when evaluating teachers,” said Amy Wilkins of Education Trust, a nonprofit education reform group. “It’s really encouraging that they are willing to join this conversation.”