School Board Opposes State Plan to Tie Teacher Licenses to TVAAS Results

November 20, 2013
Dwayne Page

Educators in the audience applauded after the DeKalb County Board of Education Tuesday night approved a resolution opposing a state-proposed policy under which a teacher could lose his or her teaching license based on results of the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS)

Board member Charles Robinson, who raised the issue during the regular monthly meeting, said he thought the local school board ought to take a stand against this and adopt the resolution.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said TVAAS was never intended to be used as a punishment to teachers. "The straw that broke the camel's back was when the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education said they wanted to take the license away from a teacher because of a test score. We would love to have every teacher in our system and the State of Tennessee to score five on Value Added (TVAAS) and a five on Achievement. That would be wonderful. This was set up years ago and Dr. William L. Sanders, who did the research, has told the state that this was never meant to be used the way it's being used. It was intended to be used to help educators improve on their teaching skills, on the strategies that they use, but it is now being used to take away a teacher's license if it goes forward. This has passed but they have postponed it for a year," he said.

Willoughby said it's also unfair to hold teachers to different evaluation standards with their licenses at stake. "Statistics say forty four percent of educators in Tennessee do not teach a tested subject so it's not going to be equal for everybody. If fifty six percent teach a tested subject and forty four percent don't then everybody is not on the same playing field. We also have students who are "more needy" than others and those students cannot make the Achievement and Growth the same as other students and to take a teacher's license away because of that is not acceptable to me nor to a lot of other people," said Willoughby.

The Resolution is as follows:

"Whereas, a professional license is a qualification-based threshold for a profession and is not a measure of effectiveness of said professional; and

Whereas, in the four state-approved evaluation models TVAAS only counts thirty- five percent of a teacher's effectiveness rating; and

Whereas, state law for teacher evaluation will be superseded by State Board of Education rules; and

Whereas, the state legislature has indicated that classroom observations should be the largest percentage of any teacher evaluation; and

Whereas, Tennessee has changed its curricular standards multiple times in a short period of time; and

Whereas, the predicting of student growth is more difficult to benchmark when standards are changed so often; and

Whereas, teacher TVAAS scores can vary with little clarification of cause and there is no validated improvement plan for teachers from the Tennessee Department of Education; and

Whereas, a teacher with a high TVAAS score can also have low proficiency ratings; and

Whereas, a teacher with a low TVAAS score can also have high proficiency ratings; and

Whereas, forty-four percent of DeKalb County teachers have individual TVAAS scores by which they are rated indicating that not all teachers are evaluated equally; and

Whereas, the National Research Council and the National Academy have indicated that value-added assessment is not stable enough for use in high-stakes evaluation and "20 years of TVAAS HAS TOLD US ALMOST NOTHING" by Andy Spears, October 7, 2012 (http://TNEDREPORT.COM/?PAGE? ID-HD-2); and

Whereas, there is a lack of research indicating Common Core standards are age appropriate at all grade levels; and

Whereas, teacher effectiveness is going to be determined from the results of tests that are yet to be created; and

Whereas, baseline tests in primary grades are formatted differently, lack time requirements, and are overly dependent on student test-taking skills;

Therefore, Be It Resolved that the DeKalb County Board of Education urges the General Assembly and the State Board of Education to oppose any proposal whereby a teaching license is issued, renewed, or denied based on results of the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS)".

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