Changes in Teacher Grading and Grievances in Works

The state’s top school leaders are due to issue report to the legislature in a few weeks on Tennessee’s teacher evaluation system, reports WPLN.
A press release from the state’s largest teacher’s union says it will likely contain a new plan for handling grievances. State officials won’t get into that kind of detail, but some degree of change is expected.
Although he says the specifics are still a matter of discussion within the department, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman says next month’s report to the legislature will include tweaks to the way teachers are graded. And he says the evaluations will likely continue to evolve for the foreseeable future.
“We’re trying to improve a system that has not generated the kind of student results that we all wish it would and so it’s incumbent on everyone who works in the system every year to try and make it a little bit better.”


Note: The news release from TEA is below.


News release from Tennessee Education Association:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The State Board of Education plans to consider an amendment in its meeting this week that would alter the existing policy for teachers to file an evaluation grievance. The proposed action follows Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman’s April directive establishing a July 15 deadline for grievances on the observation and growth components of the evaluation that directly conflicts with existing Board policy.
“TEA has been pushing for changes to the evaluation system for months, but this is not the appropriate time to make this change,” said Gera Summerford, Sevier County high school math teacher and TEA president. “Educators are out of school for the summer, as are many of their principals with whom a grievance must be filed. Depending on their summer plans, they may not even have access to their scores or their principals.”
The proposed amendment changes current policy, which requires any grievance to be filed “no later than 15 days from the end of the summative evaluation.” If adopted, the amendment changes the grievance process to require separate grievances to be filed on each of the three components of the evaluation within 15 days of when the data becomes available. It’s unclear whether this policy change will be effective immediately for evaluations of teachers for the school year just completed, or with evaluations to be conducted during the next school year.
“The SCORE report on the evaluation system reinforced what TEA has been saying for months about significant flaws with the new system,” Summerford continued. “Those flaws make the grievance process – especially this first year – extremely important. Teachers left for the summer believing the process would work a certain way. Now the State Board is being asked to change it just before the first grievances are to be filed. This is reckless and irresponsible.”
The proposed policy change could also greatly increase the administrative burden of processing evaluation grievances as every teacher would have three opportunities to grieve their evaluation each year.
“As school systems are beginning to make human resource decisions based on these evaluation scores, this sort of haphazard approach is inexcusable,” the TEA President said. “Tennessee’s teachers are deeply committed to the success of their students. They deserve a fair evaluation system and appeals process to ensure the scores accurately reflect their individual performance.”

One thought on “Changes in Teacher Grading and Grievances in Works

  1. John Anderson

    Most Tennessee teachers are non-tested, i.e., they teacher a subject for which there is no TVAAS data. The Tennessee Department of Education intends to assign to these teachers for their 35% individual teacher effect measure some sort of school or school system average TVAAS score.
    TDOE knows that this is illegal. But more troubling to TDOE is the fact that it is grievable.
    Under the current State Board of Education rules, a teacher may grieve the accuracy of their evaluation data. On its own website, TDOE explains that accuracy in the context of the new teacher evaluation system means that each teacher is correctly linked to their own students (Google “The Power of Using Value-Added Analysis to Improve Student Learning” and scroll to page 11). I have had this explicitly confirmed by an official of the State Board of Education.
    So all non-tested teachers have a slam dunk grievance. Commissioner Huffman is probably trying to complicate the process to make teachers less likely to file a grievance.
    At least one school system, recognizing that the 35% measure for non-tested teachers is illegal (and grievable) has already gone on record that it will not be using the TDOE method.
    I can provide all the details to anyone who is interested.

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