Student Performance Key in New Teacher Evaluations

By Adam Crisp, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn. (MCT) — April 18, 2011 2 min read

New teacher evaluation standards passed by the Tennessee Board of Education on Friday will weigh heavily on how well students perform in the classroom.

Fifty percent of a teacher’s evaluation must be based on student performance, but there is some flexibility.

The new requirements mandate that 35 of the 50 percent be linked directly to performance in the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, a statistical analysis that compares student test scores and determines what is considered normal yearly academic growth.

Fifteen percent of the remaining performance portion of the evaluation may come from one of nine other state-mandated categories such as student graduation rates, schoolwide testing scores and subject-specific test scores, among others. Teachers and administrators decide from which areas the evaluatee should be evaluated.

The remaining 50 percent of an evaluation must come from how well teachers perform their jobs in the areas of planning, environment, professionalism and instruction.

“This policy basically lays out the guidelines for what the evaluation will entail,” said Tennessee Department of Education spokeswoman Amanda Maynord Anderson. “From here, the state and several systems will develop a process for teacher evaluations.”

Administrators, librarians and counselors also will be evaluated under these guidelines. Like teachers, 50 percent of their evaluation is linked to performance and 50 percent is linked to specific job duties.

On Friday, Deputy Commissioner of Education Patrick Smith said it will be “a couple of years” before tenure decisions are made based on evaluations.

Under these new guidelines, apprentice teachers will receive six evaluations each year and regular teachers will receive no less than four evaluations. In all, administrators must observe teachers for no less than 60 minutes a year to complete the evaluations.

Already, systems across the state have been testing their own models for new evaluations. Hamilton County has transitioned into a system that relies on 10 yearly evaluations that last 10 minutes each.

Though these guidelines say what the evaluation should include, how administrators go about collecting the data stil lis being discussed. On Friday, state board members indicated they didn’t want the process to be all-consuming or confusing.

“Evaluations shouldn’t be terribly onerous, so complex you get lost among the trees,” said board Chairman B. Fielding Rolston. “We don’t want there to be so many checkmarks you can’t tell what’s being evaluated.”

Copyright (c) 2011, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.