one step forward...

Still no word from city on final details of teacher evaluation plan

The city submitted its proposal for a key piece of teacher evaluation this week — a list of ways to measure students’ learning that aren’t standardized tests. But one month before schools need to finalize their plans for evaluating teachers, it’s still unclear what the alternative measures will look like.

If approved by State Education Commissioner John King, the list of alternative assessment options is what principals and teachers will have to choose from by Sept. 9, the first day of school, when teacher evaluation plans must be finalized.

The alternative assessments’ measure of how much a teacher helps students learn represents 20 percent of each teacher’s evaluation. The measures are one of the details that weren’t finalized back in June, when State Education Commissioner John King imposed a system on the city.

King gave the city Department of Education two months to come up with the list of choices for the measures, which can include both assessments the city develops on its on and third-party assessments developed by outside vendors.

On June 21, the city published a guide for the committees who will devise teacher evaluation plans at each school. The guide said the list of alternative measures would be finalized by today, but a Department of Education spokesman declined to share the list, saying the city is still waiting for King’s approval.

A department official working on the evaluations, Joanna Cannon, said that the submission was “almost identical” to options provided in slideshow presentation to committees at elementarymiddle and high schools.

One set of options draws from performance assessments by third-party vendors, including some that city schools already use to track students’ learning gains. The guide mentions a list of options, including Scantron’s Performance Series assessments, which are administered on a computer, graded in real time, and adjust difficulty for the remainder of the task. Others include Discovery, a math assessment, Degrees of Reading Power, and, for high school, Advanced Placement tests.

Another option mentioned in the presentation is the district’s own performance assessments, which officials began creating nearly three years ago as a collaboration between teachers and the Stanford Center for Assessment Learning and Equity.

The assessments involve tasks, such as essays, that students will complete at the beginning and end of the school year. Students’ improvement on the tasks, which are set to a common set of rubrics, will count toward a teacher’s score on his evaluation.

But teachers and officials who have helped designed the assessments said the process of building them is challenging.

“They’re hard to create,” David Weiner, the deputy chancellor in charge of teacher quality, said in June. “We’re still working on them now to find out if they’re valid, if they’re reliable.”

At the time, Weiner said he hoped the performance assessments would be completed for all grades in English and math, but was less certain about other core subject.

According to the options presented to evaluation committees later in the month, performance assessments for all elementary school grades except third still need to be developed. The city also said it intended to develop assessments for non-core subjects, including physical education, health, arts and foreign languages.

King’s evaluation decision called on the city to also use the assessments for the state component of student growth for teachers of subjects without state tests. For instance, an assessment would be used in place of standardized state tests to measure student learning for a sixth-grade science teacher’s evaluation.

Principals said this week that they planned to wait until they receive a final list of options before meeting with their evaluation committees to make a choice. Once the options are approved, schools have until Sept. 9, the first day of school, to make a selection.

meet the fellows

Meet the 38 teachers chosen by SCORE to champion education around Tennessee

The year-long fellowships offered by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education were awarded to 38 Tennessee educators.

Six teachers from Memphis have been awarded fellowships that will allow them to spend the next year supporting better education in Tennessee.

The year-long fellowships, offered by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, train and encourage teachers and other educators to speak at events, write publicly about their experiences, and invite policymakers to their classrooms. The program is in its fifth year through the nonpartisan advocacy and research organization, also known as SCORE, which was founded by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist from Tennessee.

The fellowships, known as the Tennessee Educator Fellowships, have been awarded to 150 educators since the program’s launch in 2014. This year’s class of 38 educators from around the state have a combined 479 years of experience.

“The fellows’ diverse perspectives and experiences are invaluable as they work both inside and outside the classroom and participate in state conversations on preparing all students for postsecondary and workforce success,” SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson said in a news release.

Besides the Shelby County teachers, the group also includes educators who work for the state-run Achievement School District, public Montessori schools, and a school dedicated to serving children with multiple disabilities.

The 2018-19 fellows are:

  • Nathan Bailey, career technical education at Sullivan North High School, Sullivan County Schools
  • Kalisha Bingham-Marshall, seventh-grade math at Bolivar Middle School, Hardeman County Schools
  • Sam Brobeck, eighth-grade math at Memphis Grizzlies Preparatory Charter Middle School. Shelby County Schools
  • Monica Brown, fourth-grade English language arts and social studies at Oakshire Elementary School, Shelby County Schools
  • Nick Brown, school counselor at Westmoreland Elementary School, Sumner County Schools
  • Sherwanda Chism, grades 3-5 English language arts and gifted education at Winridge Elementary School, Shelby County Schools
  • Richard J. Church, grades 7-8 at Liberty Bell Middle School, Johnson City Schools
  • Ada Collins, third grade at J.E. Moss Elementary School, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Lynn Cooper,  school counselor at South Pittsburg High School, Marion County Schools
  • Colletta M. Daniels, grades 2-4 special education at Shrine School, Shelby County Schools
  • Brandy Eason, school counselor at Scotts Hill Elementary School, Henderson County Schools
  • Heather Eskridge, school counselor at Walter Hill Elementary School, Rutherford County Schools
  • Klavish Faraj, third-grade math and science at Paragon Mills Elementary School, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Mavis Clark Foster, fifth-grade English language arts and science at Green Magnet Academy, Knox County Schools
  • Ranita Glenn, grades 2-5 reading at Hardy Elementary School, Hamilton County Department of Education
  • Telena Haneline, first grade at Eaton Elementary School, Loudon County Schools
  • Tenesha Hardin, first grade at West Creek Elementary School, Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools
  • Thaddeus Higgins, grades 9-12 social studies at Unicoi County High School, Unicoi County Schools
  • Neven Holland, fourth-grade math at Treadwell Elementary School, Shelby County Schools
  • Alicia Hunker, sixth-grade math at Valor Flagship Academy, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Alex Juneau, third grade at John Pittard Elementary School, Murfreesboro City Schools
  • Lyndi King, fifth-grade English language arts at Decatur County Middle School, Decatur County Schools
  • Rebecca Ledebuhr, eighth-grade math at STEM Preparatory Academy, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Aleisha McCallie, fourth-grade math and science at East Brainerd Elementary School, Hamilton County Department of Education.
  • Brian McLaughlin, grades 10-12 math at Morristown-Hamblen High School West, Hamblen County Schools
  • Caitlin Nowell, seventh-grade English language arts at South Doyle Middle School, Knox County Schools
  • Paula Pendergrass, advanced academics resources at Granbery Elementary School,  Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Julie Pepperman, eighth-grade science at Heritage Middle School, Blount County Schools
  • Kelly Piatt, school counselor at Crockett County High School, Crockett County Schools
  • Ontoni Reedy, grades 1-3 at Community Montessori, Jackson-Madison County Schools
  • Tiffany Roberts, algebra and geometry at Lincoln County Ninth Grade Academy, Lincoln County Schools
  • Craig Robinson, grades 3-5 science at Georgian Hills Achievement Elementary, Achievement School District
  • Jen Semanco, 10th- and 11th-grade English language arts at Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Hamilton County Department of Education
  • Amanda Smithfield, librarian at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Cyndi Snapp, fourth-grade math at Carter’s Valley Elementary School, Hawkins County Schools
  • David Sneed, 12th-grade English at Soddy Daisy High School, Hamilton County Department of Education
  • Yolanda Parker Williams, fifth-grade math at Karns Elementary School, Knox County Schools
  • Maury Wood II, grades 4-6 technology at Westhills Elementary School, Marshall County Schools

work hard play hard

Memphis teachers share basketball, even if they don’t share a district

PHOTO: Laura Faith Kebede

Freedom Preparatory Academy is gathering teachers from district-run and charter schools to play basketball. The teachers, mostly black men, have turned it into a networking opportunity as well as a way to let off steam.