(NASHVILLE, TN) — State Senators Mike Faulk (R-Church Hill) and Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) today commended teachers, the Tennessee Department of Education, the State Board of Education and the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) for improved changes to the teacher evaluation system implemented for the 2012-13 school year. The two legislators were leaders in calling for changes to be made to the new system after it was released last fall.
“As school doors open across the state this month, the newly implemented changes are representative of how effective government is supposed to work,” said Senator Faulk. “We had a system which needed improvement. We did not ignore the critics. Our State Department of Education, working in concert with SCORE, our State Board of Education – and most of all with our teachers — put forth substantive improvements after listening to those concerns, without compromising standards.”
The improvements include a new rule that gives teachers scoring in the top 20 percent fewer observation evaluations. The move makes it less burdensome for the state’s top teachers and gives administrators more time to focus improvements on those who score in the bottom percentile. This and other changes to the system were made after the State Department of Education, with the help of SCORE, met with 7,500 teachers around the state and surveyed 16,000 teachers regarding the new evaluation system.
“There was a major effort made to get teacher feedback,” added Senator Tracy. “It was a necessary task. I feel confident that state education officials will continue to listen and solicit feedback from teachers and other stakeholders as we learn what is working and what is not with this challenging new system. The end result is that we are all pushing in the same positive direction to make improvements – which are exactly what we are already seeing with the new test results released this month.”
The state’s teacher evaluation process was put into place as a result of the First to the Top legislation proposed by Governor Bredesen and approved by the Legislature in January 2010. The original teacher evaluation process was designed by teachers and other education practitioners under provisions of the First to the Top Act. One of the biggest challenges of the new system has been identifying growth data for subjects where it is more difficult to measure achievement.
“High student growth is what we have to have if we’re going to catch up with the rest of the Southeast,” Faulk continued. “I am very encouraged by the recent improvements in our scores. It reflects the efforts being put forth by our teachers, students and parents. I look forward to continuing to see improvements which will give our students more opportunities to succeed.”