Tennessee teachers likely will have the option in their evaluations this year to waive student test scores from the first year of the state’s troubled TNReady test. But even if they choose that option, test scores still will make up to 50 percent of their evaluation scores in one way or another.
After the failed online rollout of the state’s new TNReady test in February, Gov. Bill Haslam responded to calls for flexibility by offering up a sure-to-pass proposal to give teachers three options, including one that would nix TNReady scores from this year’s evaluations.
“Teachers will be able to choose the best of results for themselves,” Haslam told reporters.
His proposal, which requires legislative approval, would be an extension of last year’s Teacher Evaluation Enhancement Act, which temporarily reduces the weight of current test scores from evaluations in the transition to TNReady, the state’s new assessment aligned to the state’s current academic standards.
However, while granting temporary flexibilities in the new TNReady era, the state continues to hold fast to inclusion of student test scores in teacher evaluations — a lynchpin of sweeping education reforms ushered in during the last five years under the state’s Race to the Top plan. The evaluations are used by local districts to make personnel decisions.
To incorporate test scores into teacher evaluations, Tennessee uses TVAAS, a formula that’s supposed to show how much teachers contributed to individual student growth.
TVAAS, which is short for the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, typically comprises data based on three years of testing, but this year teachers will have the options of only using scores from this year’s tests — or from the past two years before that. How is that possible? Although TVAAS, in theory, measures a student’s growth, it really measures how a student does relative to his peers.
The state examines how students who have scored at the same levels on prior assessments actually perform on TNReady in 2015-16. Students are expected to perform about as well on TNReady as their peers with comparable prior achievement. But if they perform better than their peers, no matter how their performance compares to last year’s, they will positively impact their teacher’s score.
Here are the options* for this year’s teacher evaluations. (For details, move your cursor over the pie charts.)
Option 1: As always, 50 percent of the evaluation would be comprised of “qualitative” data from teacher observations. The other 50 percent is based off of quantitative data. Teachers can choose from a menu of options to count toward the “achievement” part of their score, which counts for 15 percent of their overall evaluation. Options include AP scores, the school’s graduation rate, or school-wide TVAAS. TVAAS comprises the remaining 35 percent of the evaluation score overall, with 10 percent coming from TNReady scores and 12.5 percent each from the final two years of TCAP.
Option 2: Only value-added including TNReady would count in the TVAAS portion of the evaluation score, for 35 percent.
Option 3: The third option would totally discount this year’s TNReady scores.
*Depending on the district, teachers of some non-tested subjects can use portfolios rather than TVAAS for that portion of their evaluation score.