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After meeting with Hopson, teachers’ advocate doubtful evaluation will change

In 2014, Shelby County School teachers protest a bonus pay plan similar to the one Knox County teachers sued the state over.
In 2014, Shelby County School teachers protest a bonus pay plan similar to the one Knox County teachers sued the state over.
Tajuana Cheshier

After a much-anticipated hour-and-a-half meeting Tuesday, a leading Shelby County Schools teacher advocate is doubtful that Superintendent Dorsey Hopson II will work to change two key provisions on the district’s teacher evaluation that lead to widespread protests In August.

Angry teachers said during last month’s board meeting that the requirement to demonstrate all 69 objectives during an observation and the lack of an appeals process to dispute an observation score will make it impossible for teachers to get a Level 5, the highest score possible, and the bonuses and pay raises that will likely come along with it.

The two issues stunted discussions between a teacher evaluation working group and district officials in April but Hopson reconvened the committee Tuesday in an attempt to hear teachers’ concerns.

“He did listen,” Keith Williams, president of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association, said when reached after Tuesday’s meeting. “He told us he would take all of the teachers’ concerns under advisement, but I don’t think much was accomplished.”

Williams nor other teachers and administrators in attendance gave many details about the meeting, only that Hopson told them he would make his final decision early next week.

Hopson and his leadership team have said previously that they believe observation scores are inflated since the district’s achievement scores do not correlate with teachers’ evaluation scores. A Level 5 teacher should produce high-level student achievement and growth scores, they argue.

Teachers have been vocal about the evaluation criteria, Williams said, because the district uses it, though not entirely, to make hiring and pay decisions for teachers based on evaluation scores.

The district has already used evaluation scores to reward teachers for their performance in the classroom this year and has encouraged principals to use evaluation scores as a component in making hiring decisions.

In October, Shelby County School teachers will receive a bonus check based on their evaluation scores.

“There is room for compromise,” Williams said Tuesday after the meeting. “He (Hopson) could at least modify where the scores aren’t locked. He could at least do that. Teachers should have the right to dispute a score.”

Contact Tajuana Cheshier at tcheshier@chalkbeat.org and (901) 730-4013.

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