Tennessee Board Rescinds Plan to Tie Licenses to Test Data

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As teachers' unions in Tennessee fight to reduce the weight placed on students' standardized-test scores in teacher evaluations, they are edging closer to a victory on a related matter: certification.

Last August, the state board of education approved new regulations linking the Tennessee "value added" system, or TVAAS, to the license-renewal process. The rules, which were to have taken effect in 2015, required teachers with individual estimates generated by TVAAS to meet a certain performance threshold in order to maintain a license.

Though the board expected all but 5 percent of such teachers to clear the hurdle, the policy drew immediate opposition from the Tennessee Education Association. The union, an affiliate of the National Education Association, held several rallies to voice opposition to the new rules; groups representing administrators also expressed concerns.

Convinced by arguments that more alterations were needed, the board rescinded the policy in January. (A final withdrawal of the rules is to occur in April.)

"There was concern about the variability that occurs with TVAAS," said B. Fielding Rolston, the chairman of the state board. "It's a statistical process. I think it is a good process and a solid process, but it does vary from year to year."

The board has since drafted a new framework that would instead tie license renewal to a teacher's composite evaluation score. In that respect, the value-added information—which counts for up to 35 percent of each teacher's overall score—would still matter. And the language includes an appeals process for teachers, Mr. Rolston said.

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But the new version isn't a go yet, either. It was pulled from consideration for the April board meeting because of pending legislation, supported by the TEA, that would prevent the state from granting, revoking, or renewing an educator's license based on standardized-test scores.

The bill recently cleared a Senate committee by a bipartisan vote. In the House, where the measure has 80 co-sponsors, it is awaiting committee action.

Vol. 33, Issue 27, Page 9

Published in Print: April 2, 2014, as State Board Rescinds Plan to Tie Licenses to Test Data
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