When it Comes to Grading Teachers, State Faces Math Problems

Tennessee’s Education Commissioner appeared in a panel on teacher quality before Congress Wednesday. In his testimony, Kevin Huffman said that even though teachers’ jobs may depend on new evaluation scores, the state still hasn’t figured out just how to add those up.

A law enacted this spring says teachers can be fired if they don’t score well on teacher evaluations, half of which depend on classroom observations. Tennessee trained 5,000 observers to score teachers in 19 categories.

Appearing before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Education
Commissioner Kevin Huffman said the state still hasn’t really figured out how to ally up those categories into one final score.

“You get your value-added score and then you get your observation score and how do you combine it all so that it winds up with one number? And so we have technical experts from um higher ed that are helping us figure that piece out.”

Huffman says he hopes to smooth out the scoring next year. Despite kinks in the system, new teachers’ scores could still determine whether they get tenure or not.

Tennessee was one of just two states nationwide to receive a 500 million dollar grant for its Race to the Top efforts to improve teacher quality, and student scores.

Memphis, Hamilton County, and the Association of Independent and Municipal Schools will use different evaluation systems from the rest of Tennessee schools.


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