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Should TN Teacher Licensing Rely Solely on Student Test Scores?

PHOTO: Saying a teacher's livelihood shouldn't just rely on student's test scores, state Rep. Matthew Hill has sponsored a bill to prohibit such licensure decisions. Image available: photo of students in classroom. Photo credit: Brad Barth
PHOTO: Saying a teacher's livelihood shouldn't just rely on student's test scores, state Rep. Matthew Hill has sponsored a bill to prohibit such licensure decisions. Image available: photo of students in classroom. Photo credit: Brad Barth
February 20, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A bill that would prohibit linking the licensure of Tennessee teachers solely based on student test scores is gaining momentum at the General Assembly.

State Rep. Matthew Hill, the bill's sponsor, says test scores can be useful when districts make decisions on hiring and firing.

"However, I do not believe that using test scores when it comes to a teacher's license, their livelihood, is the right way to go,” he counters. “And to use the force of government and some standardized test scores – and really what it boils down to is using a statistical estimate – to take away a teacher's career I believe is wrong."

The Educator Respect and Accountability Act of 2014 is supported by the Tennessee Education Association and now has nearly 80 co-sponsors in the 99-member House.

It's currently awaiting a sub-committee hearing, although the date has not yet been set.

Hill says the main reasons why testing under the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System shouldn't be a lone determinate on the renewal or removal of a teacher license is because there are so many variables – and because scores can change from year to year.

"What I mean by that is, if you're a fourth or fifth-grade teacher and you get a good score from a kid and then that kid goes to eighth-grade is having a hard time, doesn't do as well on their test, that can reflect back on the fifth-grade teacher,” he points out. “Don't ask me how, but it can – because it's a statistical estimate.

“That should not be used in basing whether or not a teacher can keep their license."

The Tennessee Board of Education voted in favor of the policy in August, but recently changed its stance and plans to take up the issue of testing and teacher licensing when it meets again in April.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN