Education commissioner proposes tweak to teacher evaluation system

Monday, October 31, 2011 at 11:39pm

With teacher unrest making headlines across the state in recent weeks, Tennessee State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced Monday plans to request the modification of the state’s controversial new teacher evaluation system.

It remains to be seen whether the change –– billed as a move to make the evaluation timeline more flexible –– eases concerns of agitated educators.

In a Tennessee Department of Education press release Monday, Huffman said he plans to ask the state board of education to modify the state’s new teacher evaluation system, implemented this year to grade the performance of teachers. A component of the state’s 2009 Race to the Top legislation, the system subjects teachers to a grading system that some have criticized as time-consuming, bureaucratic and unfair.

According to the release, the proposed adjustment would allow principals to conduct two of the required in-class observations “in succession, and thereby hold only one pre- and post-conference meeting for the combined observation.”

The department says the adjustment would “streamline” the evaluation process and offer “flexibility” to teachers and principals.

“We have said from the beginning that we will listen and respond to feedback from educators on this evaluation model, and that is exactly what we’re doing,” Huffman said in a statement. “This adjustment made sense, and if approved, our evaluation system will be stronger because of it.”

Huffman added he anticipates making additional modifications to the evaluation system next summer after reviewing data from this year’s results.

Huffman is set to present the proposed change at a state board of education meeting Friday.

8 Comments on this post:

By: tnlife4me on 11/1/11 at 1:47

Huffman just doesn't get it, does he?

By: pswindle on 11/1/11 at 9:04

This is where Unions are needed. This is just the begining to tear down the laws of this crazy legislative session.

By: govskeptic on 11/2/11 at 6:03

pswindle along with 50 other organizations want a shot at providing a
tweak! A tweak here and there gets us back to the swamp we are now
finding the system in, running in circles costing more and more and
providing less and less in Education! I wonder if many teacher's
comprehension of Math and English is any larger than the 34% of
the 4th and 8th graders?

By: Moonglow1 on 11/2/11 at 7:00

Moonglow1: don't blame teachers. We need to have economic and social change to increase graduation rates. Teachers play a role, but they cannot work miracles. I cringe when I drive by Montgomery Bell and Harpeth Hall. Their campuses are better than some college campuses. My point: obviously the brightest are in private schools leaving the city with the students who are not as fortunate as those attending private schools. So we need an "evaluation" system for our politicians. They need to raise the bar and create jobs so people can feed their families. Poverty affects educational outcomes. We have idiots as politicians. Vote them out. P. S. Make sure you get your picture ID so you can vote. Thank Haslam for taking your right to vote away from you.

By: MelHamilton on 11/2/11 at 3:41

First to govskeptic- what 50 organizations are you referring and what could any outside group do to tweak this systrem? I am sickened by the people who know nothing of education yet think they have all the answers. And as for your tacky remark about the comprehension for Math and English teachers scoring better than 34% of 4th and 8th grade students, most people do not know that teachers must make an adequate score on a Praxis exam, an assessment of their subject area content knowledge to be the required highly qualified and to teach in Tennessee. This is an assessment most are not aware. Further more, this was instituted after many veteren teachers had already been in the system and this new requirement was added. And guess what- we complied, took the test or took more classes to satisfy the new requirement. Many qualified people retired or left then rather than be subjected to the offensive and disrepectful implications of a new requirement beyond their teaching certificates or state license. The state continues to add new hoops because ignorance is driving these so called reforms that are merely placebos for the true illness mainly poverty. Why won't they ask the teachers? We know what is wrong but the pundits will not listen to reason nor common sense. All I've got to say is be careful for what you wish because I think you just may get it which evidently is a whole new crop of teachers. MANY teachers will retire and you can just take the natural consequences for the ignorance and inexperience that will be the only thing to survive. We already hear of less than stellar individuals in the system now because many bright and intelligent young people will not succumb to the mistreatment they see their favorite teachers or family being subjected. There are indeed lazy, immoral people choosing our field because they believe the crap the media and politicians ascribe. They get in schools, cause dreadful problems and abuse children and then incompetent or overworked principals let them stay until they get arrested. I am horrified by some of the news reports I hear but teachers cannot get rid of bad employees. Everyone must do his job- teachers,principals, parents, community members and students.

By: MemphisDweller on 11/2/11 at 6:14

Two in-class observations IN A YEAR are too much?! Really?! You should try getting a job in the private sector with a supervisor looking over your shoulder at all times! You people are completely divorced from the REAL WORLD! NO WONDER OUR STUDENTS ARE NOT PREPARED TO ENTER THE REAL WORLD EITHER!

Here's a much better idea: audio-visual equip is so affordable now, every principal should be able to link in to any classroom at any time of the day. There is no legitimate argument against it. That is, if the whole point is supposed to be for the benefit of the children.

By: asdfgh on 11/2/11 at 9:14

There are 4 observations a year now. Two unplanned, and 2 planned observations. The planned observations have pre and post conferences. It sounds like they just want to cut one conference by combining a pre and post. Does not sound like it is better for teachers. Pre and post conferences are not extra work for teachers, as the principal is sharing his/her findings, and we just listen to the evaluation. So it would not help teachers at all. Pretending to cater to teachers, while actually cutting the principals' work and leaving teachers work the same. Same double talk that got us in this mess to begin with. Evaluations are so unfair to teachers in predominately immigrant schools. We are told that if we taught better, we could get high scores. But since our kids didn't make AYP, we are rated as lousy. It doesn't matter how strong your teaching techniques or planning is. You are given a low score so that teachers can be blamed for immigrant children not learning English and content fast enough. How fair is that? Nice reward for all this hard work , and for earning advanced degrees to be able to teach them. Good luck keeping strong teachers in these schools. Good luck, MNPS.

By: smiless on 11/9/11 at 12:33

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