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Teacher evaluation system to be evaluated due to many complaints

A statewide evaluation system for teachers will now have its own evaluation after complaints recently triggered leaders to take another look at the process for grading Tennessee educators.
Last week, Gov. Bill Haslam commissioned an outside review of Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system, following a recommendation by the House Education Committee.
“The committee found that principals and teachers across the state are overwhelmed by the amount of time needed to prepare for a single observation,” Bo Bradshaw of the Tennessee News Service reported. “That is spawning complaints that the evaluation system takes away from more valuable tasks, like classroom preparation time.”
The five-month evaluation of the evaluation system is music to the ears of Washington County Director of Schools Ron Dykes, who has been openly critical of the process since it was put into place as part of the Race to the Top program.
“It was a knee-jerk response to the accountability portion of the Race to the Top,” Dykes said. “As a result, we now have an instrument that is highly controversial and doesn’t apply to at least 60 percent of the teachers.”
Dykes says he spoke to small group of legislators, including State Reps. Matthew Hill and Dale Ford, a little over three years ago, expressing his dissatisfaction with the evaluation system.
“There needs to be a fair, adequate evaluation process and individuals do need to be held accountable,” Dykes says. “We need an evaluations system, but we don’t need this system. This is just an another unfunded poorly-planned mandate they just expect us to do.”
Dykes believes the current evaluation system was developed too quickly and without enough input from “true educators.”
“This evaluation system only applies to teachers in grades 3-8, in the four core subject areas — math, reading/language arts, science and social studies. Anyone outside of those — everyone from physical education, guidance, special education groups, all of the high school teachers — don’t fit the easy evaluation plan,” he said.
The additional amount of work the evaluation system puts on a school district is also a problem, Dykes said.
“The evaluations are the responsibility of the principals and assistant principals and they were overwhelmed trying to meet the evaluation requirements,” Dykes said. “What happened is that you went from two evaluations of a teacher in a 10-year period, which is far too few, to four evaluations in one year.”