A revamped teacher licensing proposal still lacks support from Tennessee's teachers' union, the group that led the opposition of the policy it would replace.
The Tennessee State Board of Education is set to consider on final reading Friday a proposal that would let teachers bypass some of the required professional development credits to renew professional licenses if they perform well on annual state-mandated evaluations over consecutive years.
It would replace a policy the state board has scratched — dictated so by a new law that passed this session — that would have prevented the renewal of teacher licenses because of habitual low evaluation scores.
Even though this new path would be completely optional for teachers, the Tennessee Education Association opposes it — a sign of the group's complete rejection of the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, which accounts for 35 percent of a teacher's evaluation score.
TVAAS, which measures a student test results compared to predicted scores, is the subject of litigation from TEA after it publicly turned against the system this winter.
"We at TEA believe there are some legal concerns with the conflating of evaluation and licensure," TEA attorney Rick Colbert told the board at a work session Thursday. "In short, we believe the legislature has treated licensure and evaluation as separate items."
A law that forced the state board to revisit a policy it had adopted last summer said a teacher's license may not be "non-renewed or revoked" by the department because of TVAAS.
Sara Heyburn, assistant commissioner at the Tennessee Department of Education, pointed out that the policy would be completely optional and said it's meant to reduce paperwork for teachers who are meeting or exceeding expectations. She also noted that a separate bill passed this year allowing high-performing teachers to request that they be able to bypass professional development.