Knox School Supe Defends Teacher Evaluation System

Legislators beset with complaints about the state’s new teacher evaluation system were urged by Knox County School Superintendent Jim McIntyre Wednesday to make no changes in the “courageous and visionary” law.
McIntyre and Knoxville Central High School teacher Byron Booker, recently named the state’s “teacher of the year,” spent more than two hours before House Education Committee.
Most of that time was spent fielding questions based on complaints that the process and its “instructional rubric” is so complicated and time-consuming that it takes away from teaching time and has unfair elements that have left many competent teachers contemplating early retirement or resignation.
There were also questions about not granting tenure to teachers who consistently are evaluated as meeting expectations — or level three of five levels established under the system. Under the new system, only teachers rated at the higher levels four and five can become tenured.
McIntyre said those rated three “are solid, effective teachers doing their job well…. meeting expectations when the expectations are high.” Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, asked McIntyre whether he could assure all such teachers they would be rehired.
“Can I assure all of them? No, sir. But I can assure you that, if we have solid effective teachers, we are going to continue to want to have them in our classrooms.”
House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley questioned whether Knox County Schools were dealing with the transition to the new system better than other systems because four Knox schools had operated under the Teacher Advancement Program, which served as a model for the new system, for several years. Three other Knox schools were in a similar “pilot program” that started a year ago.
McIntyre said that experience “does provide us with some institutional knowledge of the rubric,” but for more of Knox County Schools “this is brand new just like it is for everybody else.”
Fitzhugh and some other lawmakers have called for halting the new system and spending at least another year to “get it right” before proceeding with implementation. But McIntyre and Booker said that would be a mistake.
“Certainly, there are some adjustments and tweaks that can be made,” said McIntyre, adding that those can be done without legislative action. “In my humble and respectful opinion, I would ask that the Legislature keep the legislation in place in its current form.”

Note: Text of McIntyre’s prepared remarks (and those of Booker) are available on the Knox County Schools website HERE.

One thought on “Knox School Supe Defends Teacher Evaluation System

  1. jcgrim

    I’ll try posting this comment again. I do not want my name published for fear of employment repercussions.
    First, understand that the evaluation system is NOT about improving education as there is NO peer reviewed research on its efficacy.
    The state of TN paid millions to the Milkin family of Wall St fraud for their TAP/TEAM evaluations system that scores teachers on a 5 point rubric. The national trainers trained all evaluators that a score of (3) is “at expectation”. If there are “too many” high scores the trainer asserted that evaluators were gaming the evaluation tool.
    Since the scores of TEAM/TAP teachers follow a Bell-shape distribution (according to their non-peer reviewed research), only 15% of teachers will achieve scores above (4) or significantly above (5) expectations and 85% will perform at or below expectations.
    What does all of this mean in a real school? First, teachers scored ‘at expectations’ means no tenure for beginning teachers and a loss of tenure for tenured teachers.
    Second, mandates are trickling down from Broad Academy superintendent, Jim McIntyre that Knox County Schools supervisors and principals would “be in trouble” if they gave too many 4’s or 5’s.
    Finally, the TEAM evaluations don’t recognize differentiated instructional practices, nor does the scoring metric credit teachers for differentiating learning levels. There are a fixed number of behaviors needed to obtain a single score making it difficult evaluate varied levels of instruction needed for children in classes at acquisition, fluency, or advanced learning levels. The assumption from such fixed indicators is that every child learns the same content at the same rate, using one set of standardized procedures. In mixed ability groups there are multiple ways to scaffold learning that fixed data metrics such as TEAM cannot identify.
    Why would lawmakers, the State Commissioner of Education, and Superintendent support a system rigged to loose 85% of their teachers and that does not identify quality teaching?
    This is a snapshot of the warped mindset of our “leaders” who think nothing of enriching a convicted felon with tax dollars, and who attended private schools where students came from privileged backgrounds, classes were capped at 12 – 15, and no one with a disability need apply.

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