Supporting Effective Teaching in Tennessee:
Listening and Gathering Feedback on Tennessee’s Teacher Evaluations
Tennessee’s teacher evaluation system is improving both the quality of instruction in the classroom as well as the
establishment of accountability for student results. As Tennessee continues its work to implement the system, many
of the challenges highlighted by educators should be addressed to ensure the system identifies and supports instruction that leads to high levels of student achievement.
Much of the discussion around where and how to improve the evaluation system has focused on technical adjustments.
Examples of technical adjustments include how many observation sessions should occur over the course of the year for
teachers of different experience levels, how long lessons should be, and how much planning should be required for the
model. As we noted above, there may be some opportunities to streamline and adjust the different models. However, we
must maintain a focus on continuous learning with regard to teacher evaluation that results in improved student achievement, and this effort will require more than technical adjustments.
Our recommendations do not address the full universe of possibilities regarding technical adjustments to Tennessee’s
teacher evaluation system. We do, however, support certain flexibility from the Department of Education and the state
Board of Education regarding items such as the number of classroom visits for teachers. More can be learned by studying
the longer-term implementation of all the approved models and creating an ongoing feedback process while working
within current State Board guidelines.
As we continue to put a robust teacher evaluation system in place, the ultimate goal is to foster a culture in Tennessee’s
schools that supports meaningful feedback and related professional development opportunities – for teachers and principals
alike – as the essential professional culture required for improving instruction and student outcomes.59
With this goal in mind, we offer the following recommendations:
1. Ensure current and prospective teachers and leaders receive sufficient training in the new evaluation system.
2. ink the feedback that teachers receive with high-quality, collaborative, and individualized professional
learning opportunities so that they can improve their instruction.
3. Address challenges with the current quantitative and qualitative measures of teacher effectiveness.
4. Support school and district leaders in becoming strong instructional leaders capable of assessing and
developing effective teaching – and hold them accountable for doing so.
5. Re-engage educators in those districts where implementation of the teacher evaluation system has faltered
during the first year of work.
6. Integrate the ongoing implementation of the new teacher evaluation system and the Common Core State
Standards so that they work together to improve student outcomes.
7. Drive continuous improvement of the teacher evaluation system at the state, district, and school levels.