Bill would repeal Board of Education’s new teacher licensing policy (filed with 60 House co-sponsors)

Teachers believe a bill filed Thursday by Jonesborough state Rep. Matthew Hill seeking to reverse a recent State Board of Education policy change will be passed easily by the legislature, reports the Johnson City Press.

The bill, titled the Educator Respect and Accountability Act of 2014, would do away with the state board’s not-yet-implemented policy to tie the granting and renewal of professional teaching licenses to in-class assessments and growth scores calculated using student’s standardized testing scores. (Note: It’s HB2263, sponsored in thee Senate by Sen. Mike Bell, Riceville.

…(T)eachers and school administrators have vehemently opposed the new policy, saying the statistical score does not accurately represent student learning.

“If we have a teacher that’s not performing well, it’s the principal’s ability to evaluate that teacher and to make a recommendation to me whether they’re going to be hired or not,” Unicoi County Director of Schools Denise Brown said Thursday, shortly before a rally in Johnson City against the state’s expanding use of the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, or TVAAS.

“The law is already in place, so why do we need to tie it to a statistical estimate that we don’t know where it comes from?” she asked.
TVAAS is a statistical analysis model that seeks to map students’ educational progress over time using standardized test scores.

Educators say the system was originally intended to be a tool to help determine which teaching practices were most effective, but Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has tried to force it into uses where it doesn’t fit.

…The House bill also establishes an electronic complaint form on the Department of Education’s website where individuals can report concerns with any of the state’s teachers.

The bill already had 60 co-sponsors out of the body’s 99 total members when filed Thursday.

Teachers believe that’s a sign indicating its easy passage.

“The legislators are not pleased,” Indian Trail Intermediate School teacher and Johnson City Education Association President Joe Crabtree said. “From the several I have spoken with, none of them are pleased. You mention the state board and a grimace comes over their face.”

But unless the representatives can garner a veto-proof majority, the bill will have to be signed by Gov. Bill Haslam, a fervent supporter of Huffman’s reform initiatives.

“I think (Haslam) has said ‘Huffman is the man I chose’ and if he goes back on that now, it will undo everything that has been done under the past four years under Huffman,” Crabree said. “I don’t think Haslam wants that as his legacy.”