Measuring Student Growth in Tennessee: Understanding TVAAS - Page 4

OCTOBER 2014 TAKING NOTE PAGE 4 TAKING NOTE OCTOBER 2014 How does TVAAS help principals and district leaders? Teacher Distribution Building School Leader Capacity to Use Data: Maryville City Schools TVAAS data can be used at the district and school levels to ensure that high-quality teachers are distributed equitably between and within schools. This data could help administrators and districts create systemic incentives to attract and retain high-quality teachers in historically lower-performing, low-income schools. Additionally, TVAAS data provide insight into teachers’ instructional strengths, whether in certain subject areas or with specific groups of students. For example, TVAAS data may indicate that a teacher is more effective teaching math than English language arts or that a teacher yields high levels of academic growth for higher-achieving students. School leaders can use this information to capitalize on teachers’ strengths, placing them with groups of students or in subject areas where they are most effective instructionally.23 Student instructional interventions PAGE 5 Maryville City Schools serves approximately 4,900 students. Dr. Mike Winstead, Maryville’s current Director of Schools, points to the time that Maryville spent working with school leaders as a key to the success the district has with data. Winstead says, “We’ve always had a good culture here in Maryville, but in recent years we’ve really invested time and energy into helping school leaders understand and effectively use data. We have at least one person on each building’s leadership team who is truly a data expert.”25 Winstead and his team spent time working with school leaders to ensure they know what TVAAS data tell them and using that information to inform school-level decisions. School leaders use TVAAS and other data to ensure teachers are assigned to subjects and grade levels where they are most effective instructionally. In addition, school leaders carefully examine TVAAS data to gain a clear understanding of how the school is addressing the needs of all learners, from those in the top 25 percent to those in the bottom 25 percent. This information helps schools to understand if there are students who are not being served well by the school and to direct resources to those students.26 TVAAS data also inform school and district leaders of individual students or groups of students that need targeted instructional interventions. This information can inform professional development opportunities for teachers, the implementation of before or after-school tutoring programs, or the hiring and distribution of instructional coaches. Teacher support practices How does TVAAS help state policymakers? One of the most important uses of TVAAS data occurs at the school level and informs principal practices around teacher support. When schools have instructional coaches or teacher leaders present, TVAAS data can guide these instructional leaders toward the teachers who need their help and support the most. In this way, TVAAS data can serve as foundational evidence for teacher improvement practices, gaining insight into teachers’ opportunities for growth and providing them with the support they need to be successful. Professional development Table 3 Using Value-Added Data to Support All Teachers: Frank P. Brown Elementary At Frank P. Brown Elementary in Crossville, data are used to continually inform teacher support and improvement efforts. When TVAAS data indicate that a teacher is struggling in a certain subject area or with a certain group of students, school leaders will ask an instructional coach to spend time in the classroom with that teacher. Instructional coaches will observe, offer constructive feedback, collaborate on lesson planning, and model effective instruction for these teachers. Additionally, when value-added data show that a teacher is struggling in a particular subject or with a particular group of students, school leaders will pair them with a teacher who excels in the same area. The teacher will have a chance to spend a few days observing his or her colleague, learning from their instructional practices and classroom management style. At Frank P. Brown, teachers are given the opportunity to watch best practices in action and are provided with the resources they need to improve upon their own practices.24 1207 18th Avenue South, Suite 326, Nashville, TN 37212 — tel 615.727.1545 — fax 615.727.1569 — TVAAS measures provide states and districts with data that could inform investments in professional development opportunities that more effectively align with their teachers’ greatest needs.27 For example, the state’s TVAAS data indicate that students in grades 3-8 made little growth in reading over the last few years.28 For this reason in 2013-2014, the Tennessee Department of Education invested in professional development opportunities for teachers in reading intervention. Teacher preparation As TVAAS is more widely implemented, it can be used to track teacher preparation program g