Tennessee's Race to the Top (TN-RTTT) application contains some impressive education policy changes.
2.12.10 – Most of them involve making better use of the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System data that has been available but inadequately used since the early nineties.
Tennessee’s Race to the Top (TN-RTTT) application contains some impressive education policy changes.
Most of them involve making better use of the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System data that has been available but inadequately used since the early nineties. Taken collectively, they represent a serious and well-considered effort to focus schooling on measured achievement gains.
The Education Consumers Foundation has created a list of policy highlights with links to relevant passages of Tennessee’s 1100+ page Race to the Top (RTTT) document.
The statutory and policy elements are in place, and Tennessee’s 136 school districts have all signed memorandums of understanding committing them to the planned reforms regardless of whether the state’s RTTT proposal is funded. If fully implemented, the changed policies are likely to have a dramatic effect on student achievement in Tennessee:
- Promotion, compensation, and retention will now be based on student learning gains as measured largely by the state’s value-added assessment program (TVAAS). So will tenure and retention of all teachers.
- Teachers will be categorized annually on a 5-point scale ranging from “highly effective” to “ineffective.”
- Approximately 30% of Tennessee’s teachers are now producing less than one year of academic growth per year. The State’s goal is to reduce that number to 10% in 4 years and to zero thereafter.
- Teacher performance improvement will primarily be achieved through customized professional development; however, teachers who fail to improve with mentoring and assistance will be subject to dismissal for “ineffectiveness” or “incompetence.” Only those professional development programs with demonstrated effectiveness will be eligible for continued funding.
- University-based and alternative teacher preparation programs will be evaluated on the basis of their graduates’ ability to produce student achievement gains. Program-by-program results will be tracked and publicly reported in Tennessee’s online teacher preparation report card. Successful university programs will be expanded and unsuccessful ones given a specified amount of time to improve or undergo decertification.
The challenge of implementation lies ahead but Tennessee is clearly on the right path.
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