Tag Archives: concerns

SCORE: Teachers Concerned Over Evaluating Without Data

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The head of an education foundation commissioned by Gov. Bill Haslam to review Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system says it has identified a key concern teachers have about the testing data used to evaluate them and will propose recommendations to address it.
Former state Sen. Jamie Woodson, a Knoxville Republican, met with The Associated Press late last week to discuss the report to be released on Monday by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, or SCORE, which was launched by former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist.
Haslam announced in December that he was commissioning an outside review to help “separate the anecdotes from flaws” in the new system, which has been heavily criticized by educators and lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans. The governor, a Republican, asked the recommendations be reported back to the state this summer.
Woodson wouldn’t reveal the specific recommendations before the release of the report, but she did highlight three main concerns gathered in feedback from nine roundtables and more than 16,000 teachers and administrators who participated in a statewide questionnaire.
They are:
— The system is often viewed as overly focused on accountability and not enough on improving instruction in the classroom.
— Many teachers do not have access to high quality professional learning tied to their evaluation to help them improve their practice.
— The majority of teachers do not have individual value-added student growth data for their grades and subjects.

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TVA Nuke Plants Raise Safety Concerns

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Two of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s six nuclear reactors have been flagged for safety concerns by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The NRC’s annual assessment was released last week. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports (http://bit.ly/xaEPmT) it gave the Browns Ferry Unit 1 reactor in Athens, Ala., a red rating for the most serious category of safety issues. Red ratings have been issued only five times in the past.
The Sequoyah Unit 1 reactor received a white rating, meaning the plant needs to resolve one or two items of low safety significance.
In December, a third TVA reactor, Watts Bar Unit 1, near Spring City, received a white rating for security issues that the NRC has declined to make public.
Of the nation’s 104 operating commercial reactors, the NRC found that 88 fully met all safety objectives.
“As a fleet they (the TVA reactors) have some issues they need to work to correct,” NRC spokesman Joey Ledford said. “We believe they are working to correct these issues, and the additional oversight that these plants are receiving should help.”
TVA spokesman Ray Golden said the utility’s goal is to have all six reactors rated as top-performing plants but admitted there is still significant work to be done.
Browns Ferry’s red rating stems from a reactor-core cooling valve failure in October.
NRC officials found the valve may have been inoperable for 18 months and said TVA would have detected the problem much sooner with better testing and maintenance.
The white rating at the Sequoyah plant, in Soddy Daisy, comes because the reactor had five unplanned shutdowns in less than a year.
All nuclear plants are inspected daily by the NRC, but the annual assessment gives the public a regular report card on the facilities.

Haslam Voices Concern Over Photo ID Law (sounding like a Democrat?)

Gov. Bill Haslam says he has voiced concern to legislators that the new state law requiring voters to have photo identification will make it “unnecessarily hard” for some people to cast ballots in next year’s elections.
But the governor said he is not recommending changes in the new law or delaying implementation at this point.
“We haven’t made that recommendation to them yet,” Haslam said in an interview. “I think the way government works, you know, is that our job is to carry out things and also to propose things. At this point in time, all we’ve done is raise the issue.”
The new law, enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Haslam earlier this year, takes effect Jan. 1. The first election with the new law in effect will be March 6, the date of Tennessee’s presidential preference primary.
The Legislature meets Jan. 10, which means members could theoretically postpone the law before 2012 voting begins. Other elections will be held in August and November of 2012.
The lawmakers who spearheaded passage of the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, say they do not share the governor’s concern. House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron said they want “full steam ahead” with enforcement and implementation of the new requirement for voting.

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