The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors has adopted a resolution urging the State of Tennessee to continue implementing the new teacher evaluation instrument this school year. Annual teacher evaluations based, in part, on student achievement, were part of the legislation passed by the Tennessee General Assembly in the January 2010 special session that secured a $500 million federal Race to the Top grant. You can read the Chamber’s resolution here.
Chairman Bert Mathews also authored an opinion piece
on this topic that ran in Monday’s Tennessean.
As difficult as change can be, it’s important that the state get the new evaluation process underway and make adjustments on an as-needed basis. Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman has said all along that the Department of Education would consider suggestions for improving the process, and proof of his commitment came this week, when he announced the department would seek a rule change with the state board of education this Friday to allow principals to combine the number of teacher observations, reducing the amount of time commitment from administrators and teachers.
The move to a new teacher evaluation system had broad, bipartisan support from legislators, teacher unions, the business community, and advocacy groups when it passed in 2010. Now that the difficult work of implementation is underway, there appears to be an effort to turn back the clock. We can’t afford to keep doing things the same way and ignore our poor results. Our state got another wake-up call today when the National Assessment of Educational Progress results
were released. Although there was no statistical change in Tennessee’s scores in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math - the four subjects tested this year - a greater number of states have made improvements, pushing Tennessee farther down in national rankings. The state dropped from 45th to 46th in the nation in fourth-grade math; 39th to 41st in fourth-grade reading; 43rd to 45th in eighth-grade math; and 34th to 41st in eighth-grade reading. Twenty-six percent of fourth-grade students are proficient in reading, and 30 percent are proficient in math. Twenty-seven percent of eighth-grade students are proficient in reading, and 24 percent are proficient in math. We need to stay the course in reforming our education system.