SCORE Evaluation - Full Report - Page 4

Supporting Effective Teaching in Tennessee: Listening and Gathering Feedback on Tennessee’s Teacher Evaluations While Tennessee has shown early signs of success in preparing students for the rigors of postsecondary education and the workforce, significant work remains to ensure policy changes create positive results for our students. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data released in 2011 indicated that although there was no statistical change in the state’s fourth and eighth grade reading and math scores from 2009, other states made improvements during this period that pushed Tennessee further down in the rankings. (Tennessee currently ranks 46th among states in math proficiency levels and 41st in reading, based on fourth-grade results.) Similarly, only 15 percent of students are considered college-ready across all four ACT college benchmarks (English, reading, math, and science).3 These education outcomes have implications not only for our students’ futures, but for the economic strength of our state. The ability for our students to be prepared for college and high-quality jobs and for our state to attract business investments rests on the quality of our public education system. While the work is difficult, the pathway to improvement is clear. Research shows that effective teaching is the most important school-based factor in improving student growth and achievement.4 In order to help teachers improve, they need meaningful and ongoing feedback on their performance. This feedback must be closely linked to supports and training that help teachers learn, build on their strengths, and address their areas for development.5 Tennessee’s Teacher Evaluation System In the past, meaningful feedback for teachers has been an important missing link in the efforts to improve instruction in classrooms across Tennessee. Under the old system, tenured teachers could go years without evaluations and the feedback they needed to improve instruction. While the state did not routinely collect evaluation results from districts under the previous system, the vast majority of teachers were typically deemed to be performing at high levels. In such cases, evaluations failed to effectively differentiate teachers and were inconsistent with student educational outcomes.6 To address this issue, Tennessee’s First to the Top plan prioritizes improving the state’s system of providing feedback to teachers. Old Teacher Evaluation System Evaluation was based on classroom observations, teacher self-reflection, and a review of teachers’ professional growth Evaluation is based on multiple measures, including classroom observations, student achievement data, and student growth data Teachers with less than three years of experience were formally evaluated once a year. Teachers who had taught three years or more were formally evaluated twice over a 10-year period All teachers receive a formal annual evaluation Teachers with two years of experience were observed three times each year. Teachers with three or more years of experience were observed two times during the year they were evaluated Teachers without a professional license receive six observations each year (with the option of combining a portion of the observations for a minimum total of four classroom visits). Teachers with a professional license receive four observations each year (with the option of combining a portion of the observations for a minimum total of two classroom visits). Half of the observations must be unannounced Teachers received one of four ratings: Unsatisfactory, Level A – Developing, Level B – Proficien а