After beating down several Democratic amendments, the State Senate Monday night passed a bill that would allow any college instructor to receive a license to teach his subject in high schools with no additional educational training.
More from WPLN: Sen. Jim Summerville, a Dickson Republican, is the sponsor and an adjunct instructor himself, though he says he wouldn’t take advantage of the automatic teaching license.
Under his bill, a former college professor would be presumed to be able to teach on the basis of knowing his subject. An amendment (sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Faulk and passed, while several Democratic amendments were defeated) would require an instructor to be in good standing with the college.
“But the bigger question is, should we do this, period.”
Senator Andy Berke, a Chattanooga Democrat, asked if the proposed law sends a mixed message. He says trained teachers were key to the state winning half a billion dollars in the federal “Race to the Top” program.
“And one of the things that we talked about was the professionalism of teaching, and raising the bar, and raising standards.”
— UPDATE: Mike Carpenter, state director of Students First, which he says did not draft the bill but supports it, sends this by email::
Just saw your post on the Summerville alternative licensing bill for college faculty. A few comments:
1. The amendment by Summerville ensures they cannot be addict to drugs or intoxicants and must be of good moral character.
2. TCA 49-5-413 requires the LEA to background check before hiring
3. They would not escape evaluation, presumably six time per year
4. State Board can promulgate rules as they deem necessary
5. Sen. Berke’s reference to RTTT is a convenient one. RTTT also mentions alternative licensing, teacher shortages and the need to have a report card on teacher training programs, which has since shown that our traditional teacher prep programs do not fare as well as alternative programs like Teach for America.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The sponsor of a proposal to close teacher evaluation records to parents and other members of the public said Thursday that doing so will keep the process honest.
The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville was unanimously approved 27-0 in the Senate. The companion bill is scheduled for a vote on the House floor next week.
Tracy said access to the data should be limited to school officials and not available to the general public.
“The principal would be much more honest if he knows it’s not going to go into the public record,” he said after Thursday’s vote. “We’re all about teacher performance, and that’s what evaluations are, to improve a teacher to be the best that they can be.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to close public access to teacher evaluation data is advancing in the House.
The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Richard Montgomery of Sevierville was approved on a voice vote in the House State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday. The companion bill is headed for a floor vote in the Senate.
Sponsors say access to the data should be limited to school officials and not available to the general public.
Under recent changes to state law, half of teachers’ assessments must derive from testing data, while the rest comes from classroom observations.
Tennessee Education Association lobbyist Jerry Winters told reporters earlier this week that he favors the proposal because of the lack of confidence many educators have in the new evaluation system.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Education Association lobbyist Jerry Winters said Monday that he favors a proposal to close public access to teacher evaluation data because of the lack of confidence many educators have in the new evaluation system.
The measure is headed for a full Senate vote, and the companion bill is awaiting a vote in the House State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday.
Sponsors say access to the data should be limited to school officials and not available to the general public.
Winters spoke to reporters on Monday after hearing a presentation from a Tennessee Department of Education official on the implementation of the evaluation system.
Senators argued to a temporary standstill Thursday over whether anyone teaching in a college should also be automatically eligible for to teach in high schools.
The bill in question (SB2302) says that “notwithstanding any law to the contrary,” the state Department of Education shall issue a license to teach to anyone who has taught in certified college or university fulltime for two years are part-time for four years.
Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, led a verbal assault by Democrats on the proposition, declaring the broad language means overriding current laws requiring teachers to have “good moral character” and denying teaching licenses to those with felony convictions or “addicted to the use of intoxicants or narcotics.”
He envisioned the Department of Education forced to issue a teaching license a “convicted sexual predator” with a narcotics conviction.
In an interview with The City Paper, Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, nearing his first full year in the position, dismissed as “incorrect” media reports that his department planned to publish evaluation scores attached to teachers’ names. The department is, of course, obligated to review open records requests on teacher personnel files, and would review them with state attorneys, he said.
“If news organizations or others make open records requests, we’ll have to review the requests, and figure out if we need to hand over that information, which could lead news organizations to publish that information,” Huffman said.
But an important caveat will determine which evaluation data in Tennessee actually receives sunshine.
Under the evaluation system, each teacher across the state is assigned a score ranging from 1 through 5. Administrators arrive at that figure by weighing three categories. Half the score is based on in-class observations by principals. Student achievement accounts for another 15 percent. The remaining 35 percent of a teacher’s evaluation stems from what educators call value-added data, which measures a student’s progress over time, from one year to the next. According to state law, as Huffman pointed out, value-added data is protected from public records, complicating what state officials would be willing to publicize.
“Part of the challenge is that because value-added scores are protected by law, we can’t give out value-added scores, and we can’t give out information that will allow people to ultimately figure out the value-added scores,” Huffman said. “We would just have to look at every request that came in, because I think the nuances are tricky.”
In short, a teacher’s in-class observation score could very well be made a public record. But the value-added portion, more than one-third of a teacher’s overall scores, would not. That creates a grey area: The state wouldn’t hand over the final 1-through-5 score, along with remaining 65 percent of that score’s basis. If it did, someone could simply pull out a calculator to determine that shielded value-added portion.
At issue are the scores stamped on every teacher in Tennessee in the state’s new teacher evaluation system, implemented in the current school year in Tennessee and part of a growing trend nationwide. Performance evaluations have emerged as a hot-button education issue in Tennessee, with many teachers deriding the approach as flawed, unfair, time-consuming and methodical.
In other parts of the country, obtaining and publishing these scores — and the identities of the teachers who received each one — have proven contentious. The first news outlet to do so was the Los Angeles Times, which in 2010 overcame resistance from teachers’ unions to publicize evaluation scores, accompanied by teacher names, on the newspaper’s website.
In February, The New York Times published scores of New York City teachers after a failed legal effort by the United Federation of Teachers and despite the opposition of many educators. Today, a parent, teacher or student — anyone for that matter — can go on a Times-administered site called SchoolBook and find the evaluation scores for every teacher in the city. Some rankings are high. Some are abysmally low.
For now, Huffman is urging media outlets in Tennessee against taking up this tactic, saying that publicizing the information would yield nothing more than gossip material that isn’t in the interests of teachers.
House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh’s op-ed column, sent to media after appearing in the Commercial Appeal:
It’s your daughter’s first day of kindergarten. She’s excited, but also scared to be leaving Mom and Dad. You tell her it will be all right, that her teacher will take care of her and that she’ll make lots of new friends.
But as you open that classroom door, you’re shocked to see dozens of other children, all going through the same emotions as your daughter. Some are crying, some are yelling and several are trying to run out of the room. You wonder how your daughter will get the attention she needs from her teacher, who will struggle simply to find space for everyone. Suddenly, you’re feeling the same nerves as your daughter — but for an entirely different reason.
A proposal from Gov. Bill Haslam would permit public school districts in Tennessee to create classes with larger numbers of children and, as a result, would decrease the individual attention our children receive from their teachers. The plan could also result in thousands of teacher layoffs, unbearable financial burdens on local governments and a reversal of the progress we have made in our schools.
We support the governor’s efforts to enact meaningful reform and provide the education our children deserve. That’s why we passed Tennessee’s Race to the Top legislation two years ago, enabling our public schools to measure performance, better train teachers and support innovative ideas.
But the governor has made a mistake by pushing this year to allow larger class sizes in elementary and middle schools, a move that members of his own party have opposed. Removing the state’s average class-size requirement means schools would put more students in every classroom, while laying off thousands of teachers at a time when we need them the most.
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN) — State Senator Mike Faulk (R-Church Hill) today announced he has filed legislation to allow teachers and principals with superior value added growth data scores to choose to use those scores to comprise 50 percent or more of their evaluations.
Senate Bill 2165 would change the present system where students’ value added growth is 35 percent of a teacher’s evaluation score, with another 15 percent tied to another measure agreed upon by the teacher and his/her supervisor to evaluate student achievement. Under Faulk’s proposal, the state Board of Education would adopt standards for high achievement.
The state’s teacher evaluation process was put into place as a result of the First to the Top legislation, proposed by former Governor Phil Bredesen and approved by the Legislature in January 2010. The new teacher evaluation process was designed by teachers and other education practitioners who were integral in constructing the evaluative tools. One of the biggest challenges of the new system has been identifying growth data for subjects where it is more difficult to measure achievement.
“This change in our First to the Top law will incentivize teachers to achieve high student grow – the very thing we want from our school systems,” said Senator Faulk. “High student growth is what we want in Tennessee. High student growth is what we have to have if we’re going to catch up with the rest of the Southeast. An obvious inconsistency in the current system occurs when a teacher has high student growth rates but receives only an average teacher evaluation score.”
“This change rewards results; not method,” added Faulk. “An evaluation system that has a preconceived notion as to a single proper method of teaching has to be carefully scrutinized. I doubt there is only one “right” way to teach.”
“I have listened to teachers and other education stakeholders concerning the new laws and rules on evaluation,” Faulk continued. “I know from talking with them that many are very concerned about the new system and its ability to evaluate them fairly. This legislation should help to ensure that there is fairness; and at the same time, that we still have a good system to measure teacher performance in the classroom.”
‘Bad policy’ on Charter Schools?
State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman says it’s “bad policy” for school districts to systematically deny charter school applications, whether for financial reasons or because the community is in upheaval over a pending school merger., reports the Commercial Appeal.
“We need to get out of the business of believing that (the per-pupil) funding belongs to the school system, that our goal is to preserve funding for that school system,” Kevin Huffman told The Commercial Appeal editorial board Thursday.
Instead, he said, the mindset should be that “parents should have a role in figuring out where their kid is going to go to school, and it is appropriate for funding to move with the child to a new public school.”
He was responding to last week’s decision by the unified Shelby County Board of Education to deny 14 applications for new charter schools. Officials said the fiscal consequences of opening so many schools would endanger the viability of Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools. Last spring, the state legislature gave districts the prerogative to reject charters if the schools would have a “substantial negative fiscal impact” on the school district. Praise for Student Teacher Data Sharing
Tennessee is one of only six states giving feedback to its colleges of education on how their graduates are doing in the classroom, reports WPLN, and that has won praise in a study out from the Data Quality Campaign. The annual survey shows Tennessee and most other states now have all the numbers they need on teacher effectiveness in the classroom. The problem is convincing states to make the information public, says the Data Quality Campaign’s Paige Kowalski.
“Sharing in general is just difficult because you just don’t know what the recipient is going to do with it, and they could do something that’s going to put the data provider in an awkward situation.”
Kowalski says Tennessee is pushing through the awkwardness and leading the country in some respects. This year the Tennessee Higher Education Commission started releasing a report on the effectiveness of teacher programs. TEA Membership Down, PET Membership Up
Enrollment to the state’s largest teachers’ union is on the decline after the state OK’d sweeping changes to collective bargaining laws, but TNReport notes that a rival educators’ association says their ranks are growing. Professional Educators of Tennessee say their association has seen a 10.6 percent membership uptick in the last year. Meanwhile, several Tennessee Education Association chapters in Middle Tennessee have collectively lost 24 percent of their dues-paying members on automatic payroll deductions, according to statistics first reported by the Tennessean.
“I’m just glad that we have injected competition into the system,” said Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, who sponsored the Education Professional Collaborative Conferencing Act this spring. The law gives school districts the autonomy to set education policy without the approval of a teachers’ union.
“No one organization or one union should have an explicit right to negotiate on behalf of all teachers,” he said. “I’m not surprised. I’m ecstatic.”
The TEA represents the lion’s share of public school teachers in the state and is affiliated with the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union.
The TEA says it will have official membership numbers later this month, but admits membership is dropping.
“I think the whole intention behind this legislation was to try to hurt our membership,” said Jerry Winters, a lobbyist for the TEA.
Gov. Bill Haslam has defended the state’s new teacher evaluation process against critics who argue that negative consequences for educators who perform poorly should be delayed while kinks in the program are worked out, reports Andy Sher. “I think it’s really important that we not give up on this process too quick,” Haslam told reporters. “And if it’s the right thing to do for next year, I’m not sure why it’s not the right thing to do for this year.”
The governor noted the evaluations were proposed by his predecessor, Phil Bredesen, and passed by the General Assembly. They were the key factor in Tennessee winning a $500 million federal Race to the Top grant to carry out education reform, he said.
“We’ll let the process work out,” Haslam said. “Remember, this is November and we started [the new evaluations] in September. It’s not like we really have a long track record in this. It takes a little bit of adjusting to get used to evaluations.”
…Haslam said the first evaluation, “because it is the one with lesson plans, does have the most paperwork involved. I think when we get past that the evaluations after that will look a little different.”