Department of Ed Recommends Teacher Evaluation Revisions

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee education officials say teacher evaluations should be based more heavily upon how students score on tests in the subjects and grades that they teach, and less upon test scores for the entire school.
That’s according to a Tennessee Department of Education report released to lawmakers. The recommendations address a major concern among educators who said they were being evaluated based on the performance of students that they did not even teach.
Those evaluation standards were first enacted as part of Tennessee’s federal Race to the Top application in 2010. Tennessee was one of the first two states selected for the grants.
Last month, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, or SCORE, released its own study that said about two-thirds of the state’s teachers should be allowed to opt for a smaller portion of their evaluations to be based on student testing data.
Fifty percent of teachers’ evaluations are based on student testing data, but only about one-third teach subjects where growth scores are collected. The SCORE report recommended that teachers in subjects or grades without specific testing data be allowed to reduce that component to 25 percent of their evaluation.


In a summary of its report, the state education department recommended “making schoolwide value-added scores a smaller portion of teachers’ evaluations if they are unable to obtain individual value-added measures.”
Jerry Winters, a lobbyist for the Tennessee Education Association, told The Associated Press the recommendations are appropriate.
“It’s very consistent with what we were saying months ago,” he said. “There’s no way this system is going to work unless they do take that kind of action of not depending so heavily on schoolwide data.”
The department also suggests allowing teachers with the highest growth scores — such as a four or five — to have this measure count for 100 percent of their evaluations.
It also called for a more streamlined observation process for teachers with the highest ranking on value-added scores.
Currently, the observation process for non-tenured teachers is six a year, and four times a year for tenured teachers.
Winters said the process needs to be streamlined for all teachers, and not just those at the top.
“That’s one of the major problems with this whole system, is that it’s so time consuming for teachers and administrators,” he said.
The department said it found that many districts noticed increased quality of instruction in their schools following the implementation of the new evaluation system.
“Developing an effective model for evaluating educators is part of our system-wide efforts to develop better conditions for teaching and learning in Tennessee,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “We are encouraged by the results we’ve seen so far, and the department will continue to use feedback from stakeholders and measurable outcomes in classrooms to improve evaluations year after year.”
The department’s recommendations follow a year of soliciting feedback from educators statewide. Officials had conversations with more than 7,500 teachers and held meetings with directors of schools from every district.
News release from state Department of Education:
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Education this week released a report to the General Assembly recommending revisions to the state’s teacher evaluation system as a part of its process of continuous improvement.
The department found that many districts noticed increased quality of instruction in their schools with the implementation of the new system, which was launched in the 2011-12 school year as one of the nation’s first comprehensive, student outcomes-based methods of teacher evaluation in the country.
Following the first year of evaluation implementation, Tennessee saw the largest-ever aggregate gains on statewide tests, as students scored higher across grade levels and subjects.
“Developing an effective model for evaluating educators is part of our system-wide efforts to develop better conditions for teaching and learning in Tennessee,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “We are encouraged by the results we’ve seen so far, and the department will continue to use feedback from stakeholders and measurable outcomes in classrooms to improve evaluations year after year.”
The report outlines recommendations designed to make the evaluation process more efficient; ensure the fair implementation of evaluations across districts; channel constructive feedback to struggling teachers and modify quantitative measures for some teachers to better gauge their impact in the classroom. The department has recommended incorporating individual value-added measures for teachers in more subject areas and reducing the use of school-wide value-added scores for teachers in non-tested grades and subjects.
The department’s recommendations follow a year of soliciting feedback from educators across the state. Officials had conversations with more than 7,500 teachers, held meetings with directors of schools from every district and visited more than 100 districts in person.
Through a survey by the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation and Development, the department also reviewed responses from 17,000 teachers and administrators.
Tennessee’s evaluation model has garnered the support of community members, who share the department’s desire to maintain quality instruction in Tennessee schools.
“Tennessee has made such important strides this year with its new teacher evaluation system, and as a community, we must continue to stay the course with these reforms,” said Ellen Register, Executive Director of the Tennessee Business Roundtable. “Ensuring the quality and effectiveness of Tennessee’s teachers benefits our students, employers and the entire state.”
Elements of the revisions will require approval from the General Assembly and the State Board of Education, which will meet July 27. The full report can be found on the department website.

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