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Evaluations - Common Issues
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Common Issues with Teacher Evaluations

In regards to teacher evaluation, it was clear almost from the beginning there would be issues, and in fairness it was acknowledged openly by the Tennessee Department of Education. On September 19, 2011, Commissioner Kevin Huffman said: "We don't expect a perfect evaluation system. We will adjust next summer based on feedback this year." Some of the problems our members have experienced thus far include:

 

1. The people who were trained did NOT get trained the same way at each session. Some recommended adjusting the order of evaluation events, for instance. Some emphasized a certain group of items while others emphasized something else.

 

2. When they got back to the local district, there was a real lack of coordination on the part of many districts. Everyone had been trained, so they should just be able to go out and start, right? Nope. There is no consistency from school to school or even at the same school. For instance: a) Some administrators are requiring ONE lesson plan to evaluate. Others might be requiring a lesson plan for every day to be turned in. b) Some administrators are looking over the lesson plans, making some notes, and then giving them back to the teachers for revisions before they are scored. Others are scoring the plans on the first round without allowing revisions. As a result, teachers are not evaluated in the same way or on a level playing field.

 

3. So far, there is no appeal process if a teacher feels he or she has been evaluated incorrectly or inappropriately. If an appeal process is put in place, there needs to be a guarantee by appeal that the evaluator is prevented from retaliating.

 

4. Teachers are spending 5 to 10 hours writing ONE lesson plan, then spending more time rewriting and revising. Some of these lesson plans are many, many pages long. And teachers are required to turn in all handout sheets that will be used in that lesson. Further increasing the massive amount of paper. That is NOT sustainable for all lesson plans.

 

5. Evaluators are spending at least 3 hours, if not longer, scoring classroom observations on the TWELVE points outlined in the rubric. That also cannot be sustained.

 

6. Some evaluators are observing the lesson they scored for the plan. Others are observing a totally different lesson. In addition, some are requiring a 2nd plan with the observed lesson, while others are not. As a result, teachers are not even writing a plan for the lesson for which they are being observed. It just takes too much time.

 

As a result, teachers are extremely irritable and administrators are also equally frustrated. No one really likes the current system, although they may like parts of it. There are also questions about who is evaluating the evaluators.  A possible solution would be to also look at using evaluation teams rather than only one evaluator, who may be biased. There are some much needed adjustments needed. Thus far, we probably are not actually witnessing teacher effectiveness in the way this project has been rolled out in many districts across the state. We may just be observing the ability of teachers to jump through hoops. Evaluations used to be a dog and pony show. Now they are a St. Bernard and Clydesdale show. Same show, just bigger.

 

It appears that the system currently underway still requires too much teacher and administrator time and provides too little useful feedback. Do school systems have the capacity to evaluate all teachers every year fairly? We are keeping an open mind, and we sincerely have faith that most policymakers statewide want to see changes in education that lead to greater student achievement and they will in fact support teachers in the process to lead that effort. We also have the utmost confidence in Commissioner Kevin Huffman. He has proven himself to be a competent education leader, and will listen to the thoughts and genuine concerns of teachers across the state. We look forward to working with him and his team to make sure legitimate concerns reach the highest level possible. Leaders across the political spectrum understand we need to continually make data-driven changes in the evaluation model and we pledge to assist our members with the new evaluation system. 

 

Questions or comments regarding the Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM) can be sent to team.questions@tn.gov

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