New Teacher Evaluation System Called ‘Disaster,’ Defended

Seeking to face down concerns from Tennessee educators and state lawmakers, Gov. Bill Haslam and state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman are defending the state’s new teacher evaluation system but concede the controversial program is not without its flaws.
More from Action Andy Sher’s report:
“The system is not perfect, but it is a significant step forward, and the first step in an ongoing effort to refine and improve evaluation and support for educators,” Huffman wrote in an email sent to educators, obtained by the Times Free Press.
Noting the evaluation system was a key factor in Tennessee winning a competitive $500 million federal Race to the Top grant, Huffman said, “We continue to view the evaluation system as a critical foundation for our collective work to improve student achievement.”
…..In an e.mail recently sent to teachers in his Rutherford County House district, Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, said “it has come to my attention [from teachers] that the new teacher evaluation system is an apparent ‘disaster.'”
Womick said House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, met with both Haslam and Huffmann “to completely overhaul or change the new teacher evaluation system.”
Haslam spokesman Smith said there was no such meeting with the governor.
Lt. Gov. Ramsey “has already spoken privately and extensively to the commissioner about this issue,” Ramsey spokesman A.C. Kleinheider said in an email.
In a statement, Ramsey said, “many in my caucus share [Womick’s concerns]. It is my understanding that Commissioner Huffman is currently working hard to dispel some persistent myths and misinformation by communicating directly with classroom teachers.”
The commissioner is meeting with at least some school boards as well.
Calling the evaluations “key,” Ramsey said he is “committed to doing everything in my power to see this reform is implemented effectively.”
Harwell said she has made arrangements to speak with Huffmann after “hearing concerns from members of the caucus, not all, but a few. We’re looking into it. I think our caucus is 100 percent committed to the evaluation process. It’s needed and it’s the only way [to] raise standards.”
“Anytime you implement a new program there’s some wrinkles,” she said, suggesting “some tweaking” might be needed

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