BOE talks superintendent search, testing data this week

Oct. 31, 2016: The Knox County BOE is continuing to discuss whether student test scores should impact teacher evaluations, and the search for a new superintendent.

The Knox County Board of Education met Monday and will meet again Wednesday to continue discussions that touch on the search for a new superintendent and whether state testing data should help determine teacher evaluations and student grades for the current year.

The board discussed whether it wants to put together a Superintendent search committee and – if members do want a committee – then who should serve on it. The county law department has recommended three members, but Bounds said the board doesn’t necessarily have to stick to that number.

The Board will vote on that issue Wednesday, if a committee is voted for, Bounds will be the one to appoint them.

Buzz Thomas, who oversees the Great Schools Partnership, is currently serving as interim superintendent.

However, the GSP wants him back by next summer, so Bounds said the school board wants to get it done by then.

“I don’t think there are any members of this board who will not do their due diligence to get the best person, but we know we’re on a very tight schedule,” Bounds said.

The board spent the majority of the time talking about a proposed resolution sponsored by Amber Rountree that comes in the wake of the state’s recent announcement that it has signed a contract with Questar to oversee Tennessee’s annual student assessments. Rountree was absent from Monday's session.

Rountree wants the state to grant a waiver so that the tests don’t count against teacher evaluations and student grades for the current year.

The state in the past year or so has struggled to roll out new tests for students and she wants to make sure the kinks are worked out of the new tests.

Her resolution also notes that “there are documented errors on the part of Questar” to administer similar tests in New York and Mississippi, and that Knox County teachers wouldn’t be involved in writing test items for the current year.

Thomas has called the resolution “ill-advised” and “at the very least . . . premature.”

“(The) proposed resolution does not sound like a school district that is aspiring to be the best in the South or even in the state,” Thomas wrote to board members in a Sept. 23 email. “It sounds like we are making excuses. We need a good standardized test each year to tell us how we are doing compared to others across the state and the nation. We will achieve greatness not by shying away from this accountability but by welcoming it.”

The county’s Teacher Advisory Committee met earlier this month to talk about the issue. The board heard from a representative of the Teacher Advisory Council. 8th grade teacher Merry Anderson said that the council took a vote on the waiver, 12-8 in favor. 

The board meets again at 5 p.m. in the City County Building Wednesday. 

(© 2016 WBIR)


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