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Making Teacher Evaluations in Tennessee Fair and Clear

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PHOTO: State Rep. Jim Coley has authored a bill to make teacher evaluations in Tennessee free and clear. Photo credit: Public Domain
PHOTO: State Rep. Jim Coley has authored a bill to make teacher evaluations in Tennessee free and clear. Photo credit: Public Domain
March 18, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A push is underway at the Legislature to change how 63,000 public school teachers in Tennessee are evaluated, to make the process more fair and clear. Rep. Jim Coley (R-Dist. 97) said his bill would have a teacher's students tested at the start of the school year, not just at the end.

"Currently we do not do that," he said. "We would do it so you have some reliable data, some valid data that shows the child's improvement during the course of a school year, that shows how accurate the teacher's performance is in the classroom."

Another issue with the current system is that many educators teach classes in which the students are not tested, according to Gera Summerford, president of the Tennessee Education Association and also a high school teacher.

"You've got some teachers who don't have any value-added data because their students are not tested, or someone - like in my situation - where only one out of the five classes that I teach is tested, so you'd be measuring me on just a fraction of the students I work with every day."

Summerford said approving these reforms will improve the evaluation system, and Coley agreed.

"It will mean that we will have a more accurate gauge of how students are doing in the classroom," Coley said, "and it also will be a fairer judge of what a teacher is actually doing in the classroom as regards to student performance."

The House and Senate versions of the bills (HB 0537 and SB 0838) are working their way through the committee process at the State Capitol in Nashville. They are available at http://1.usa.gov/Xp1eH3.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN