In a study released this week, the Tennessee Department of Education is recommending revisions to the state's teacher evaluation system. The General Assembly would have to vote on any changes.
In a release, the department says it found that many districts noticed increased quality of instruction in their schools with the implementation of the new system, which was launched in the 2011-12 school year as one of the nation's first comprehensive, student outcomes-based methods of teacher evaluation in the country.
Following the first year of evaluation implementation, the report says that Tennessee saw the largest-ever aggregate gains on statewide tests, as students scored higher across grade levels and subjects.
"Developing an effective model for evaluating educators is part of our system-wide efforts to develop better conditions for teaching and learning in Tennessee," said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. "We are encouraged by the results we've seen so far, and the department will continue to use feedback from stakeholders and measurable outcomes in classrooms to improve evaluations year after year."
The report outlines recommendations designed to make the evaluation process more efficient; ensure the fair implementation of evaluations across districts; channel constructive feedback to struggling teachers and modify quantitative measures for some teachers to better gauge their impact in the classroom. The department has recommended incorporating individual value-added measures for teachers in more subject areas and reducing the use of school-wide value-added scores for teachers in non-tested grades and subjects.
According to the release, the department's recommendations follow a year of soliciting feedback from educators across the state. Officials had conversations with more than 7,500 teachers, held meetings with directors of schools from every district and visited more than 100 districts in person.
Through a survey by the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation and Development, the department also reviewed responses from 17,000 teachers and administrators.
Tennessee's evaluation model has garnered the support of community members, who share the department's desire to maintain quality instruction in Tennessee schools.
"Tennessee has made such important strides this year with its new teacher evaluation system, and as a community, we must continue to stay the course with these reforms," said Ellen Register, Executive Director of the Tennessee Business Roundtable. "Ensuring the quality and effectiveness of Tennessee's teachers benefits our students, employers and the entire state."
Jamie Woodson, President and CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), issued the following statement on the release of the Tennessee Department of Education's teacher evaluation report:
"The teacher evaluation system that Tennessee is implementing is already improving the quality of teaching in the classroom and is supporting inspired, high-quality instruction in many school districts. As with any new important policy, adjustments will continue to be made to ensure that the evaluation system is truly identifying and fostering great teaching, with the ultimate goal of improved student achievement. We applaud the Tennessee Department of Education for listening and gathering feedback through numerous channels, and for making important and thoughtful recommendations moving forward."
Elements of the revisions will require approval from the General Assembly and the State Board of Education, which will meet July 27.
The full report can be found here.