Measuring Student Growth in Tennessee: Understanding TVAAS - Page 8

OCTOBER 2014 TAKING NOTE RECENT POLICY CHANGES Tennessee’s First to the Top Act was passed with bipartisan support in 2010, laying the foundation for the state’s successful Race to the Top application. As noted previously, a new teacher evaluation system was an integral component of the First to the Top PAGE 8 Act. Since early implementation of the new teacher evaluation system, the Tennessee Department of Education has continuously revised the teacher evaluation model based on feedback from teachers and principals.41 Table 6 outlines these revisions along with other policy developments related to TVAAS and the teacher evaluation: Recent Policy Changes Inclusion of students with disabilities Initially, students with disabilities were not included in individual teacher growth scores on the evaluation. Recent research in Tennessee indicates that for 97 percent of teachers, the inclusion of students with disabilities in value-added measures does not yield significant change in teachers’ overall scores. For this reason, legislation was changed to include students with disabilities in individual teacher growth scores, providing student growth measures for additional groups of teachers.42 This shift in legislation only applies to students who take end-of-year assessments based on their individualized education plans. Alternative for teachers with high value-added scores Legislation passed in 2013 allows teachers who received a one-year score of 4 or 5 on TVAAS to use TVAAS to account for 100 percent of their evaluation if it would result in an overall increase in their evaluation score.43 Classroom observation requirements for the lowest-performing teachers After the first year of implementation, school leaders indicated they wanted to spend additional time with those teachers who needed greater support and assistance. For this reason, beginning in 2012, teachers who received a 1 on their evaluation were required to be observed a minimum of four times a year.44 Customization options for districts Districts can utilize an approved alternative teacher evaluation model or submit customized evaluation plans to the state that more effectively align with local values and needs. These customized plans must align with the minimum requirements in state law, but provide districts with additional flexibility in the measures used in their teacher evaluations. About one-third of Tennessee’s districts customized their evaluation systems.45 VALUE-ADDED OPTIONS FOR TEACHERS IN NON-TESTED GRADES AND SUBJECTS Tennessee approved alternative assessment options that qualify for student growth measures for teachers of traditionally nontested grades and subjects. These options include portfolio models, alternative assessments, and more accurate school-wide measures. As a result, the population of teachers receiving individual growth scores increased from 30 percent to 50 percent.46 47 1207 18th Avenue South, Suite 326, Nashville, TN 37212 — tel 615.727.1545 — fax 615.727.1569 — TAKING NOTE OCTOBER 2014 PAGE 9 Differentiat