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State board of education names new executive director

Sara Heyburn, the head of teacher and leadership initiatives for the Tennessee Department of Education will be the State Board of Education’s next executive director.

Heyburn has served as the assistant commissioner for teachers and leaders for three years, where she oversaw controversial changes in teacher licensure and evaluations.

Those changes included making growth and achievement on state tests account for 50 percent of teachers’ overall performance scores. Teachers have widely protested the use of student test scores to determine their evaluation scores and whether they maintain or earn tenure, arguing that their careers should not hinge on a students’ performance on a test given on a single day.

Heyburn began her career as a high school teacher in Jefferson County. Before overseeing the division of teacher and leadership, Heyburn was an education policy adviser for the state and a policy analyst at Vanderbilt’s University National Center on Performance Incentives.

She will assume the position at the beginning of 2015.

The board of education is charged with setting the state’s academic standards. Heyburn arrives to the board at a time when the standards Tennessee uses for math and English, the Common Core, are under a statewide review process.

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