As the Senate Education Committee conducts hearings today on the Common Core State Standards, Professional Educators of Tennessee has released a set of principles that they hope will guide policymakers on the Common Core implementation and on education reform in general.
Here they are:
- Keep Common Core State Standards in Language Arts and Math in place.
- Common Core is a starting point. The standards that are currently adopted are the minimal baseline and we must keep moving forward to increase these standards.
- Evaluate Tennessee’s role in PARCC.
- Delay using student test results for Teacher Evaluations, at least until 2016-2017 at the earliest.
- Make individual student data-mining in Tennessee illegal. Schools and schools systems need better policies in regard to school personnel having access to an educator’s personal summative and evaluation scores.
- Textbook selection and purchasing must be completely transparent.
- Conduct a public review of All Race to the Top Expenditures.
- Evaluate Tennessee’s No Child Left Behind waiver.
- Clarify the role of the State Board of Education.
- Keep all stakeholders at the table.
Several points are worth noting. First, PET is made up of educators and is expressing support generally for the Common Core State Standards. That’s important for parents and policymakers to know – the standards are, as PET says, a starting point. They are an important starting point and a definite improvement over Tennessee’s previous standards.
Next, PET is calling for a delay in the use of the PARCC tests for teacher evaluations. This makes some sense. Transitioning Tennessee’s value-added date from TCAP to PARCC make take some time and adjustment (it’s not entirely clear how TVAAS will handle the transition from all bubble-in tests to constructed response tests, for example). Delaying the use of this data in evaluations will give everyone time to see how the tests work and how to best fit them in to the TVAAS model. Meanwhile, the teacher evaluation system itself can be improved — it seems it has changed often in the early phases of implementation and an opportunity to reflect and improve seems warranted. Further, for those who insist that some student data be included on evaluations, there are certainly other data points which might be included in a teacher’s performance evaluation.
I have been asked a lot about #7 — basically, what happened to all that Race to the Top money? How was it spent? Tennesseans deserve to know how the RTTT dollars were spent and what (if any) impact those dollars had on teachers and students.
Finally, in light of a recent letter from Superintendents to Gov. Haslam, it seems #10 also deserves some attention. Intentionally including all stakeholders and ensuring their concerns are heard and questions are answered is a critical element in both Common Core implementation and in education reform in general.
Stay tuned for updates from the hearings today and tomorrow.