Tag Archives: evaluation

Teacher organizations say Haslam’s changes don’t go far enough

Leaders of Tennessee teacher advocacy groups say Gov. Bill Haslam’s latest move to change the teacher evaluation systems doesn’t go far enough, according to The Tennessean.

Tennessee Education Association President Barbara Gray applauded many of the changes Haslam proposed in a policy statement earlier this week that addressed academic standards, testing and other issues that affect teachers. She said she appreciates the governor’s new emphasis on teacher input and feedback and called several changes a “step in the right direction.” (Note: Previous post, including Haslam press release, HERE.)

But Gray said the TEA still favors an outright elimination of any use of what is known as value-added data, which compares a student’s end-of-year test results to what was predicted. Tennessee’s version is known as the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System.

“We still think that the TVAAS should be eliminated from all teacher evaluations,” Gray said. “The more we look into it, the more flaws we are finding with its accuracy. It’s unfair to tie a teacher’s evaluation to an estimation, which doesn’t really measure anything.”

Instead, Haslam this week proposed rolling back the role of value-added data — it currently comprises 35 percent of a teacher’s evaluation — to 10 percent of the score beginning in 2016. It would then go back up to 20 percent by 2017 and 35 percent in 2018.

…Tennessee’s other main teacher advocacy group, Professional Educators of Tennessee, also has taken aim at the use of value-added assessments. Executive Director J.C. Bowman said he has pushed the governor in recent talks for a complete delay in using a test-based evaluation system until testing on new academic standards kicks in.

Bowman said that Haslam has proposed a one-year review of the state’s Common Core academic standards that would conclude in 2015. The outcome could potentially change what is taught and what is tested in Tennessee classrooms.

“I’d asked for a delay — a complete stop and delay,” said Bowman, who praised Haslam for at least acknowledging there’s an issue with the current system. “I just think you got to get the car fixed before you start driving it.”

Note: See also a post on a Memphis teacher advocacy blog, HERE, that’s headlined “What’s Missing from Gov. Haslam’s Teacher Support Initiatives?” (H/T Tennessee Education Report)

Knox teacher’s firing overturned, ‘shortcomings’ in evaluation system cited

The firing of a Knox County teacher, Richard S. Suttle, has been overturned on appeal, stirring a controversy over the state’s evaluation system, the appeals process and School Superintendent Jim McIntyre, reports the News Sentinel.

Suttle, a teacher at Gibbs High School, was found by the school system to have excessive absenteeism and poor teaching performance, had delayed entering student grades at the end of the school year, and had used inappropriate language when speaking to a student. He also failed to show progress after participating in a 2011-12 school year program in which he was placed, according to McIntyre.

In a letter dated Aug. 27, 2013, McIntyre told Suttle his tenure would be revoked, which is the same as firing a teacher.

“Your performance as a teacher, as evidenced by your 2012 and 2013 qualitative evaluation data, has fallen below the expectations we maintain of teachers in Knox County Schools,” McIntyre wrote.

Suttle appealed the firing and won. The hearing officer said he should be reinstated, but with a 90-day suspension, after finding that Suttle did use inappropriate language and had some absenteeism.

“The main thrust of this case is Knox County’s claim that the evaluations indicate that Mr. Suttle is an ineffective and inefficient teacher who should be dismissed. Those charges are not true, and dismissal is not warranted,” wrote H. Scott Reams, the hearings officer, who is an attorney.

Reams said the state-standard evaluation model used by Knox County Schools had problems in Suttle’s case.

“Beauty is oft in the eyes of the beholder, and so it is with effective teaching. Rating a teacher’s performance on a scale of one to five necessarily involves subjective judgements, and the results will vary from evaluator to evaluator. The case against Mr. Suttle highlights some of the shortcomings of any evaluative tool,” Reams wrote in a 21-page opinion dated May 30.

After Suttle completed the teacher training program, Reams said, he was not given the opportunity to show improvement from year to year, based on his class assignments. Suttle was moved from primarily teaching low-performing math students to teaching physical education courses.

“Why any administrator at a school with such dismal results in math would take a math teacher with an affinity for teaching low-performing students and assign him to teach PE defies logical explanation,” Reams wrote.

The system used to rate teachers, based on Tennessee Value Added Assessment Scores, also did not sufficiently reflect Suttle’s progress, Reams found.

“Mr. Suttle was assigned to teach courses that did not generate individual TVAAS data. Given the school’s historical record of futility in math, the lack of individually generated TVAAS data virtually guaranteed low scores for 40 percent of Mr. Suttle’s evaluation,” Reams wrote.

TN Teachers on Reform Roller Coaster Ride (it’s not over yet)

Some teachers may think they’ve lived through a roller coaster of educational changes in recent years reports Kevin Hardy in a Tennessee education reform review. But they haven’t seen anything yet.
An excerpt:
Already, classroom standards are more rigorous. Evaluations are tougher and more regular. And accountability is no longer a catch phrase, but a component of many parts of a teacher’s career.
On Friday, the Tennessee School Board opened the door for teacher pay schemes that link salary to performance. And state officials rolled out plans that will make it tougher to become a teacher and harder to stay in for the long haul.
State officials argue that collectively the changes will aid their quest to get more Tennessee students to meet academic standards and thus help build a more competitive workforce. And to do that, officials say, teachers need to be put under the microscope. Their performance must measure up.
Last week’s action by the state board was just the latest in a host of reforms redefining what Tennessee expects of students and teachers.
The board approved a new minimum pay schedule that de-emphasizes a teacher’s education level and years of experience, and passed a rule requiring every district to develop some kind of differentiated pay plan. Districts could decide to pay more for higher test scores, or give more to teachers in hard-to-staff schools, or even offer more money based on the subjects or grade levels they teach, depending on local plans.
But Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman wants to go even further. In addition to stiffer requirements for first-year teachers, he wants to make license renewal dependent on a teacher’s performance, as determined by an evaluation and student test score data. The board approved a first reading of that policy; another reading is needed for final passage.
While monumental themselves, the changes enacted and unveiled last week are just pieces of a larger reform movement, based on Huffman’s premise that education practices of the past must change to have real improvement in student performance.
The state in recent years has revamped the teacher pension system, quashed collective bargaining rights, made it tougher to achieve tenure and tied teacher evaluations to student test scores.
Altogether, the changes lay out a new vision for Tennessee education, one that eliminates some of the guaranteed stability long enjoyed by teachers and treats them more like private-sector professionals.
And that’s a sea change that states like Tennessee are leading, said Sandi Jacobs, state policy director at the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan research and policy group that advocates for education reform.

Former Rep. Chris Clem Named to Judicial Evaluation Commission

News release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s office:
NASHVILLE – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey today announced the appointment of former State Representative Chris Clem to the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission.
“Chris has spent a career both in and out of the legislature highly engaged in judicial issues. I can think of no one more qualified to evaluate the judiciary than my friend, Chris,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “This state needs high quality judges who interpret the law and do not legislate from the bench. With his experience, insight and integrity, I am confident Chris Clem will work hard to ensure Tennessee has a judicial branch of which it can be proud. I’m extremely pleased he has once again answered the call to serve.”
A fifth generation Tennessean, Clem was a leading conservative Republican in the Tennessee Legislature from 2000 to 2006 representing House District 27. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Clem has represented clients in complex litigation and personal injury claims for almost twenty years.
Clem is currently an attorney at Samples, Jennings, Ray & Clem, PLLC and is a certified public accountant. He lives in Chattanooga with his wife, Liz. They have two children, a son and a daughter.
The Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission reviews the performance of appellate judges using surveys, interviews and other information, as required by law. The Commission uses these evaluations to publish a report in which the Commission recommends appellate judges for retention or replacement. Of the nine members of the Commission, two are appointed by the Speaker of the Senate, two are appointed by the Speaker of the House and five are appointed by the Judicial Council.
Among the qualities the commission looks for in the judges are integrity, knowledge and understanding of the law, an ability to communicate, preparation and attentiveness, service to the profession, effectiveness in working with other judges and court personnel.

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.

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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.

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Dept. of Ed Eyeing Teacher Evaluation Changes

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee education officials are considering changes around some of the same areas identified in a recent study requested by the governor, the education commissioner said Thursday.
Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman spoke to reporters before speaking at a summit for elementary school teachers at the Legislative Plaza.
Earlier this week, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, or SCORE, released its study, which addressed educators’ concerns about student testing data.
The report 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 such data.
Fifty percent of teachers’ evaluations are based on student testing data, but only about one-third teach subjects where value-added testing data is collected. The SCORE report recommends that teachers in subjects or grades without specific testing data be allowed to reduce that component to 25 percent of their evaluation.

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SCORE Report: The AP Story

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — About two-thirds of Tennessee teachers should be allowed to opt for a smaller portion of their evaluations to be based on student testing data, according to a study released Monday.
The report by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, or SCORE, was commissioned by Gov. Bill Haslam to review the state’s new teacher evaluation system. The Republican governor asked lawmakers not to enact any changes to the system while the study was being conducted.
Fifty percent of teachers’ evaluations are based on student testing data, but only about one-third teach subjects where value-added testing data is collected. The SCORE report recommends that teachers in subjects or grades without specific testing data be allowed to reduce that component to 25 percent of their evaluation.
The recommendation seeks to address concerns raised repeatedly by teachers since the evaluation measure was first enacted as part of Tennessee’s federal Race to the Top grant application in 2010. Tennessee was one of the first two states selected for the grants.

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SCORE Report: The News Release (and link)

News release from SCORE:
(Nashville) — The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) today released a report, Supporting Effective Instruction in Tennessee, regarding Tennessee’s teacher evaluation system. The report follows a five-month listening and feedback process SCORE led on the evaluation system to identify what is working well, gather input on challenges and concerns, and report back with a range of recommendations to the Tennessee Department of Education and State Board of Education.
“SCORE’s role in this process has been to listen,” SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson said. “It is our hope that this report and its recommendations will build on key successes of the new teacher evaluation system and support improvements moving forward, while always keeping the focus on what it takes to improve student achievement in our state.”
Research shows that effective teaching is the most important school-based factor in improving student achievement. Tennessee is now completing the first year of implementing a new teacher evaluation system, designed to identify and support effective teaching.

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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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