Non-Tested Subjects Pinpointed as Evaluation Problem Spot

While school is out for summer, the education group SCORE will release a report on the new teacher evaluation system.

A majority of Tennessee’s teachers are being judged on something other than their student’s standardized test scores. It’s a kink in the year-old teacher evaluation system that’s been raised in an ongoing review of the program.

For a special education instructor like John Anderson, there is no test that shows how much his students are learning. Roughly 55 percent of the state’s public school teachers are in the same boat.

But wording in state law says schools have to use something “comparable” to test data for a third of each teacher’s evaluation. In Bedford County, Anderson’s score is based on a district-wide average, made up mostly of students he’s never met.

“I mean, I guess I’ve seen them in Wal-Mart, but I don’t teach those kids. That is so flagrantly invalid and so flagrantly contrary to the legislation. You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand this.”

Anderson wants this year’s results thrown out.

Russell French is professor emeritus at UT’s Institute for Assessment and Evaluation. He says a music or art teacher unhappy with their results could have an argument to make.

“If indeed I were in a situation where I ended up with a low score and a decision related to that score that that influenced my future, then that would be problematic.”

Governor Bill Haslam says Tennessee isn’t alone in trying to come up with a better way to measure every subject. He says the issue has attracted the bulk of public comments on the evaluation system.

The education group SCORE plans to release its report on the new teacher evaluation system on Monday.

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