Those who long to see teachers fired based on student test scores must have been happy last week in Tennessee. Four teachers were fired based on the state’s evaluation system. Is it valid? Is it reliable? Were they fired for teaching in high poverty schools? Did the state or the district provide them with support?
Audrey Amrein Beardsley blogged about this termination process in Tennessee here. (The number fired went from five to four after she wrote about it.)
“It’s not to say these teachers were not were indeed the lowest performing; maybe they were. But I for one would love to talk to these teachers and take a look at their actual data, EVAAS and observational data included. Based on prior experiences working with such individuals, there may be more to this than what it seems. Hence, if anybody knows these folks, do let them know I’d like to better understand their stories.
“Otherwise, all of this effort to ultimately attempt to terminate five of a total 5,685 certified teachers in the district (0.09%) seems awfully inefficient, and costly, and quite frankly absurd given this is a “new and improved” system meant to be much better than a prior system that likely yielded a similar termination rate, not including, however, those who left voluntarily prior.”
A lawsuit seems inevitable.
Two board members were outspokenly critical:
“If the firings are approved then [after independent review], the group of teachers will become the first to lose their jobs under Metro’s new system that relies on state teacher evaluation to dismiss teachers deemed low-performing.
[Superintendent Jesse] Register, in pushing firings that state law authorizes, has said that all students deserve excellent teachers. But evaluations continue to be debated in Tennessee four years after their implementation
“If we have bad teachers in the classroom, I fully agree that we need to get them out of the classroom,” said board member Amy Frogge, who voted against certifying the teachers of each. “The problem is, I’m not sure we’re using a fair measure to do that.”
“Two of the teachers who face termination are at Neely’s Bend Middle School, another is at Madison Middle School and the fourth is at Bellshire Elementary School.
“Teacher evaluations in Tennessee, known as the Tennessee Education Acceleration model, have faced criticism particularly for their use of student gains on tests measured through value-added data. This compares student scores to projections and comprises 35 percent of an overall evaluation score. Qualitative in-class observations by principals account for an additional 50 percent. The remaining 15 percent is based on other student achievement metrics.
“The board’s Will Pinkston, a frequent critic of Register, objected to the board being asked to take up the votes after receiving details about the situations of each teacher only days before.
“I do not trust this process or the people behind it,” said Pinkston, who made four unsuccessful motions to defer voting on the charges.
“If mass teacher dismissals are going to be the new normal, then let’s do it right, not scramble to get information to meet some arbitrary deadline.”