TEA ANNOUNCES AGENDA TO ADDRESS FLAWS IN EVALUATION SYSTEM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Education Association released its recommendations to correct the state’s flawed annual teacher evaluation system at a news conference today. The agenda was developed as a result of feedback from teachers and administrators through TEA-sponsored regional meetings, online surveys, email and face-to-face communications among TEA staff, leaders, teachers and administrators.
“Tennessee’s teacher evaluation system and supporting data system are so flawed that they diminish the education program for Tennessee students,” said Gera Summerford, Sevier County high school math teacher and TEA president. “As a result, students suffer as teachers and administrators are distracted from focusing on student learning in order to meet the demands of the evaluation system.”
TEA’s list of recommendations includes:
1. Designate the 2011-2012 initial implementation year as a pilot/practice year for the new evaluation system so that no educator will be negatively affected by this year’s evaluation rating.
2. Prohibit the use of school-wide data as a substitute for individual growth data for non-TVAAS teachers. Rather, where TVAAS data does not exist, student growth shall be determined by appropriate criterion-referenced pre- and post-tests or comparable assessments.
3. Provide that teachers who achieve an evaluation rating of “Meets Expectations” (a three on the five-point rating scale) shall be eligible for tenure.
4. Streamline and strengthen the observation process:
· Reduce the number of required observations for accomplished teachers. For example, professionally licensed teachers with a rating of three or better (on a five-point scale) would receive one observation each year and a full evaluation cycle comprising multiple observations completed every five years.
· Utilize observation instruments which appropriately reflect how students learn and teachers teach across the range of teaching assignments.
· Simplify and streamline the observation instrument so criteria to be observed in a single lesson are realistic in both number and scope.
· Provide constructive feedback to teachers from one observation before the next one occurs.
· Base evaluation ratings on actual observations of teaching practice; prohibit manipulation of such ratings to fit a bell curve or expected student growth data.
· Provide administrators and teachers with access to a scripting system so teachers can review and respond to observation data immediately. Require that rating forms be provided to teachers after each observation.
5. Expand the 15 percent options and allow teacher choice as contemplated in the law.
6. Ensure accuracy of all data used in evaluations by providing a process for correcting erroneous data.
7. Deliver teachers’ final evaluation ratings no later than the last work day of the school year. Ensure that evaluation ratings are accompanied by recommendations for improvement and indications of the support to be provided to help teachers improve.
“We have heard time and time again that the current system forces principals to focus fulltime on teacher evaluation at the expense of running an effective school,” Summerford said. “Based on what we’ve learned during the first year of implementation, the evaluation system must be fine-tuned —for the sake of our students, our schools, our teachers and our administrators.”
Summerford continued, “While I am pleased that Governor Haslam recognizes the need for a review of the evaluation system, teachers and administrators need relief from this flawed system sooner rather than later. We don’t need to wait until after the legislature has adjourned for the year to begin to fix the system. We have now experienced a semester of full-scale implementation statewide. It’s time to build on what we’ve learned.”
“Sometimes it’s important to go slow with new programs in order to ensure they’re implemented well initially so they survive in the long term. TEA is eager to be part of the process to ensure we have a fair, valid, reliable and sustainable evaluation process for educators, not just during the term of our Race to the Top grant but for years to come,” said the TEA president.
“It is our hope that TEA’s evaluation recommendations, along with a coordinated effort among legislators, the department of education, the state board of education, SCORE and TEA, will begin to move us immediately toward a fairer, sustainable evaluation model for Tennessee,” Summerford concluded.