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TN Board of Education reconsiders teacher licensure, advancement policy

Tennessee’s board of education  voted on Friday not to include teachers’ ability to improve test scores as the sole factor in whether they have their license renewed.

The Tennessee Education Association has called the state board of education’s vote on Friday “a huge victory” for teachers, according to press release on the organization’s website.

Proposed changes to the policy will come before the board again for a final vote on April 11, according to the board’s agenda which is posted to its website.

Last August, the board passed education reform policies with a one-year delay to allow for consideration of changes. In the original policy, teachers are required to obtain certain performance scores on both the final evaluation rating and TVAAS score.  TVAAS, or Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, is a state measurement used to reflect student growth in core subjects – math, reading, social studies and science.  Portions of teachers’ evaluation scores are based on how much they contribute to the “growth” of their students academically.

Teachers are scored on a scale of 1 to 5.  A score of 1 or 2 is below performance expectations while a 3 is considered a solid performance.  A score of 4 or 5 is considered a highly effective teacher.

Under the new proposed changes, TVAAS would no longer be the standalone component of teacher licensing.

The proposal also includes the creation of a new license for teachers who do not meet the performance provisions of the Practitioner License called “Practitioner II.” A Practitioner II teacher would be required to earn an evaluation score of 3 or higher at least twice during a three-year period.  Early renewal of teacher licenses would not be an option under the proposal. Teachers with a professional license must obtain a final evaluation score of 3 or higher for half of the evaluation period, according to the state’s website.

The proposal also contains an appeal provision so that teachers whose license is either not renewed or advanced based solely on school-wide TVAAS scores are held harmless.

A public report of the number and percentage of teachers meeting the statutory definition of “inefficiency” would be required, according to the Tennessee State Board of Education.

In Tennessee, educators have been engaged in a long-standing debate about how much weight, if any, student test scores should carry in teacher evaluations as well as in licensure and advancement of teachers.

Tennessee’s teachers have voiced opposition to last year’s proposal saying that the value-added scores are not an indicator of a teachers’ potential. They also question the fairness of the proposal when in some cases teachers in non-tested subjects do not have value-added scores.

TEA’s recent campaign, “The Trouble with TVAAS” is making rounds throughout the state.  On Friday, TEA President Gera Summerford and General Counsel Rick Colbert presented the report to the TN Board of Education.

On Tuesday, TEA representatives will give the report to the TN House Education Committee and on Feb. 11, TEA officials plan to present the report locally at the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association building.