Frogge, North, Speering Challenge ASD Takeover in Madison

MNPS School Board member Amy Frogge is asking residents to speak out about a proposed takeover of either Madison Middle or Neelys Bend Middle by the Tennessee Achievement School District.

She’s posted on her Facebook page a request for community action regarding the takeover and published a letter on the issue from former Board member Mark North.

Board member Jill Speering, who currently represents the area where the schools are located, is also taking up the fight.

Here’s the post:

PLEASE HELP.  The ASD wants to take over Nashville schools that the ASD is underperforming!  Why? To improve its track record.  If we make noise, this will not happen!
Memphis is successfully fighting off ASD takeovers by charter groups. Three charter organizations have backed out of takeovers in the past 3 weeks because of community outcry!  (See links in comments.)  This is not inevitable.
The following is a Facebook post from fellow school board member, Jill Speering, who represents the schools marked for ASD takeover:
Mark North, a lifetime resident of Madison, a graduate of Madison High School, and a previous school board member wrote the following letter and sent it to elected officials about the possible takeover of Madison Middle or Neely’s Bend Elementary by the Achievement School District (ASD). We are asking the community to come together and support our Madison schools. If we work together and demonstrate our support for our Madison schools we could possibly avert a potential takeover of our neighborhood schools. We need community support! Please consider attending meetings that will be announced soon to show the ASD that the community is behind our Madison schools. If you would like to discuss this with me, please email me at jill.speering@mnps.org.
“Friends:
The Achievement School District (ASD) will announce on Friday which Metro school it is going to take over. The word on the street is that it will either be Madison Middle or Neely’s Bend Middle.
That would be outrageous. The ASD is failing, and these two schools are both outperforming the ASD. 40% of ASD students scored “Below Basic” in Math and that percentage of failure actually increased from the previous year. Also, 43% of ASD students scored Below Basic in Reading and a whopping 46.3% in Science.
In terms of students scoring proficient or advanced, each of these two Middle schools outperformed the ASD.
If the ASD takes over one of these schools and the school does not improve its scores at all next year, it will still improve the ASD’s overall score. Ironic? Yes, and tragic for the children of Madison.
Moreover, both of these two schools improved last year (as compared to 2012-13) in all three subjects and each school improved at a rate better than the ASD in 2 of the 3 subjects.
Attached is a chart showing how these two schools fared as compared to the ASD. Obviously, these schools need to improve, but their record shows that MNPS will be more successful making that improvement that the ASD.
Finally, if the ASD is allowed to continue to exist despite its dismal record, it should not be allowed to takeover schools unless its own scores are substantially better than the school it proposes to take over.
Mark North”
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

The Sweet Sixteen

Round 1 of Education Commissioner Madness is over and Round 2 — The Sweet Sixteen — is well underway.

The Round of 16 includes former legislator Gloria Johnson, Deputy Commissioner of Education Kathleen Airhart, and Williamson County Superintendent Mike Looney, who edged out Tullahoma’s Dan Lawson with a late surge.

The Sweet Sixteen also features PET’s JC Bowman and TEA’s Jim Wrye.

Head on over to Bluff City Ed and vote NOW for who should advance to the Elite Eight.

For more on education issues in Memphis, follow @BluffCityEd

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

ASD on the March in Nashville

Andrea Zelinski has the story on the plans for the Achievement School District to take over a middle school in Madison.

Whether it is Madison Middle or Neelys Bend will be announced on December 12. According to the story, the ASD will talk with district leaders, teachers, and parents in the community before making the final decision.

Amid rumors that Inglewood Elementary would be handed over to the ASD, parents there rallied opposition to a takeover.

In Memphis, parents and teachers are increasingly speaking out about the ASD takeovers.

A data analysis provided earlier this year at Bluff City Ed indicates the ASD is struggling to hit its targets or even out-perform district schools.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Replacing TCAP

Measurement, Inc. has been hired by the State of Tennessee to design new assessments in ELA and Math.

The contract came about because the General Assembly passed legislation calling on the state to open bidding for new assessments rather than continue as planned with administration of the PARCC tests.

Here’s an email sent to educators today explaining the upcoming changes:

Over the past several months, Gov. Haslam and his administration, including the state department of education, have participated in a number of ongoing conversations with you and your colleagues about K-12 education in Tennessee. These conversations have reflected both the historic progress Tennessee has made through your work as well as your concerns and recommendations for improvement. One emerging theme from these discussions has been the challenges experienced by educators due to the uncertainty of the state’s assessments in English language arts (ELA) and math and the impact of administering the existing TCAP exams while meeting the current ELA and math academic standards.
We are excited to report to you that this week the state of Tennessee completed the process to replace the state’s current TCAP assessments in ELA and math. The new measurements of learning for ELA and math will be called Tennessee Ready (TNReady). These assessments, to be administered by Measurement Inc., were selected through a fair, thorough and transparent process established by the General Assembly and administered by the state’s Central Procurement Office.
TNReady will be administered beginning in the 2015-16 school year and will assess our state standards in ELA and math. These standards are located on the department of education website (ELA is here and math is here).
You’ll find additional information about TNReady below:

  • By Tennessee, For Tennessee: Tennessee educators – both at the K-12 and higher education levels – were significantly involved in the selection process and chose an assessment that is both fully aligned to the state’s academic standards but also adaptable to future improvements. Tennessee will make decisions about item selection, test length and composition, and scoring. In the future, Tennessee will decide on changes to the test based on changes to standards, and Tennesseans will be engaged in item development and review.
  • Higher Expectations and Critical Thinking:  TNReady will expand beyond just multiple choice questions to include: writing that requires students to cite text evidence at all grade levels; questions that measure math fluency without a calculator; and questions that ask students to show their work in math with partial credit available.
  • Resources for Parents and Teachers:  Online tools will be available for schools and teachers to develop practice tests that can provide students, teachers, and parents with valuable and immediate feedback. These resources will be available before the end of the 2014-15 school year.
  • Comparability:  While the assessments will be unique to Tennessee, TNReady will allow Tennesseans to compare our student progress to that of other states. Through a partnership between Measurement Inc. and American Institutes for Research, TNReady will offer Tennessee a comparison of student performance with other states, likely to include Florida and Utah.
  • Training:  The Tennessee Department of Education will provide training for educators across the state during the summer of 2015.
  • Test Administration & Scoring: TNReady will have two parts. The first portion, which will replace the state’s current comprehensive writing assessment, will require extended written responses in ELA and math and will be administered in February/March. The second portion will include selected responses, such as multiple choice and drag-and-drop items, and will be administered in April/May.
  • Technology: TNReady will be administered online and available for use on multiple devices with minimal bandwidth. As most states move their tests for all grade levels online, we must ensure Tennessee students do not fall behind their peers in other states. However, all districts will have the option of administering paper-pencil exams.

We look forward to sharing additional details about the new assessments in the coming months.  Additional information will be posted on the new TNReady page of our website.
Finally, as previously noted, Tennessee will make appropriate revisions to assessments in the future to reflect any change in the academic standards. Recently, Gov. Haslam and the State Board of Education announced a public review process in which all Tennesseans will have an opportunity to provide input on our ELA and math standards. These public comments will then be reviewed by committees of Tennessee educators, which will make recommendations to the state board. We encourage all of you to be engaged in this process in an effort to ensure our academic standards continue to reflect higher expectations for our students. To participate in the standards review process, visit https://apps.tn.gov/tcas/. We want to thank you for your patience and acknowledge the tremendous dedication you have shown in improving the life outcomes for Tennessee students and their families. Thank you for what you do every day.

For more on education policy and politics in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Ravitch: Ed Reform is a Hoax

Education scholar and activist Diane Ravitch spoke at Vanderbilt University in Nashville last night at an event hosted by Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE), the Tennessee BATs (Badass Teachers), and the Momma Bears.

Ravitch touched on a number of hot-button education issues, including vouchers, charter schools, teacher evaluations, and testing. Many of these issues are seeing plenty of attention in Tennessee public policy circles both on the local and state levels.

She singled out K12, Inc. as a bad actor in the education space, calling the Tennessee Virtual Academy it runs a “sham.”

Attempts have been made to cap enrollment and shut down K12, Inc. in Tennessee, but they are still operating this year. More recently, the Union County School Board defied the State Department of Education and allowed 626 students to remain enrolled in the troubled school. The reason? Union County gets a payoff of $132,000 for their contract with K12.

Ravitch noted that there are good actors in the charter sector, but also said she adamantly opposes for-profit charter schools. Legislation that ultimately failed in 2014 would have allowed for-profit charter management companies to be hired by Tennessee charter schools.

On vouchers, an issue that has been a hot topic in the last two General Assemblies, Ravitch pointed to well-established data from Milwaukee that vouchers have made no difference in overall student performance.

Despite the evidence against vouchers, it seems quite likely they will again be an issue in the 2015 General Assembly. In fact, the Koch Brothers and their allies spent heavily in the recent elections to ensure that vouchers are back on the agenda.

Ravitch told the crowd that using value-added data to evaluate teachers makes no sense. The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) has been around since the BEP in 1992. It was created by UT Ag Professor Bill Sanders. Outgoing Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman made an attempt to tie teacher licenses to TVAAS scores, but that was later repealed by the state board of education. A careful analysis of the claims of value-added proponents demonstrates that the data reveals very little in terms of differentiation among teachers.

Ravitch said that instead of punitive evaluation systems, teachers need resources and support. Specifically, she mentioned Peer Assistance and Review as an effective way to provide support and meaningful development to teachers.

A crowd of around 400 listened and responded positively throughout the hour-long speech. Ravitch encouraged the audience to speak up about the harms of ed reform and rally for the reforms and investments our schools truly need.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Ed Commissioner Madness!

It’s here. And it’s even better than March Madness.

Tennessee needs a new Education Commissioner.

Now, a joint project between Tennessee Education Report, Bluff City Ed, and Professional Educators of Tennessee brings you a chance to weigh-in on who should be our next Commissioner of Education.

Should it be a reformer from another state like Cami Anderson?

Should it be a teacher and blogger like Jon Alfuth?

What about Knox County Director of Schools Jim McIntyre?

Or, Jim Wrye from the TEA?

Find out all the details over at Bluff City Ed.

Here’s a bracket:

Bracket2

And here is some background on each candidate:

  • Kathleen Airhart (TNDOE) – Deputy Commissioner of Education, prior director of Putnam County Schools since 2007, named TN Superintendent of the year in 2012. Has experience as a classroom teacher.
  • Lyle Ailshie (Kingsport schools) – Superintendent, former Director of Greenville City Schools (TN) – Greenville schools recognized during tenure as a high performing system, past president of Tennessee Organization for School Superintendents, 2005 Superintendent of the year. School district ranked second in the state by niche.com.
  • J. Worthington (Clarksville-Montgomery County) – Superintendent, worked to expand STEM integration into all 37 district schools. Previously served as CAO in the system, and as a principal and a science teacher. School district ranked thirty first in the state by niche.com.
  • Jim McIntyre (Knox County) – Superintendent, previously served as chief operating officer and budget director for Boston Public Schools. Has worked as a classroom teacher, went through the Broad Foundation Fellowship. Named outstanding Superintendent of the Year by state-wide PTA association from 2009-2011. School district ranked thirteenth in the state by niche.com.
  • Rick Smith (Hamilton County)– Superintendent, has 30 years of educational experience. School district ranked forty fourth in the state by niche.com.
  • Dan Lawson (Tullahoma City) – Superintendent, previously served as a professor of educational leadership in Murfreesboro, TN. Also served as superintendent in Mountain Grove, Missouri. School district ranked fourteenth in the state by niche.com.
  • Mike Looney (Williamson County) – Superintendent since 2009, previously served as superintendent of Butler County Schools and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Montgomery public schools in Alabama. School district fourth second in the state by niche.com.
  • Linda Stroud (Greenville) – Director of Schools, has spent entire career in Greenville City School System and has been a principal and assistant director of administration. Named Tennessee Mid Level Principal of the year in 2005, finalist for National Association of Secondary School Principals National Principal of the Year in 2006. School district ranked third in the state by niche.com.
  • Wanda Shelton (Lincoln County) – Superintendent, named Superintendent of the year for 2015 by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. School district ranked fifth fifth in the state by niche.com.
  • Chuck Cagle (Education Lobbyist) – chair of the Education law Practice Group for Lewis Thomason’s Nashville office. Oversees representation of over 70 public boards of education and other private schools. Registered lobbyist for school superintendents, employee professional organizations and educational services corporations.
  • Del Phillips (Sumner) – Director of Schools, began career as a teacher in Mississippi, has also served as an assistant principal and assistant superintendent. School district ranked 20th in the state by niche.com.
  • Jesse Register (Nashville) – outgoing superintendent of Metro Nashville Public Schools. Previously served as Hamilton County Supt from 1996-2006. School district ranked thirty sixth in the state by niche.com.
  • Dorsey Hopson (Shelby) – Superintendent, worked as general counsel for Atlanta Public Schools, served as private consultant for Clayton County Schools in Georgia. Accepted role as general council from MCS in 2008, moving into interim Supt. Role and then Supt. Role. School district ranked eleventh in the state by niche.com.
  • Jim Wrye (TEA) – government relations manager and chief lobbyist for TEA. Previously worked for Alabama education Association, notably fought to stop charter schools in Alabama. Also served as the Deputy Commissioner for Alabama Dept. of Children’s Affairs and Assistant Director of University of Alabama.
  • Dolores Gresham (Senate Ed Chair) – elected in 2008, previously served three terms in TN Hous of Representatives. District located in western part of the state. Served in US Marine Corps.
  • Gloria Johnson (former Knox State Rep) – former rep, was defeated this cycle. Democrat, worked as a Knox County teacher for 26 years. Graduated from Knox County Schools.
  • Jamie Woodson (SCORE) – president and CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, served for 12 years in Tennessee General Assembly. Chaired Senate Education Committee. Serves on TN Business Roundtable and TN Fish and Wildlife Commission.
  • Dale Lynch (Hamblen County) – Director of Schools in Hamblen County.
  • Mike Winstead (Maryville) – Director of Schools since 2013. Previously served as assistant director of schools. School district ranked first in the state by niche.com.
  • B. Smith (Giles County) – director of schools. Previously served as principal of a middle school.
  • Jason Vance (loudon County) – Director of Schools. School district ranked thirty third in the state by niche.com.
  • Bob Rider (Dean of UT College of Ed) – dean since 2004, previously served as Dean of college of education at Butler University from 2001-2004, as well as associate dean at Florida State.
  • Paul Conn (president of Lee University, Cleveland TN) – president since 1986, previously worked in the Lee College psychology faculty, won an award for excellence in teaching. Also taught at Appalachian State.
  • Candice McQueen (Lipscomb) – Senior Vice President of Lipscomb, taught in Elementary and Middle schools.
  • Terry Holliday (KY) – recently selected education commissioner for Kentucky. Previously served as superintendent in the state, and awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award.
  • Paul Vallas (NO) – former Superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools and former Supt. of the Recovery School District in LA, as well as former CEO of Chicago public schools and Philadelpha Schools. Ran for Lt. Gov of Illinois in 2014.
  • Cami Anderson (NJ) – Superintendent of Newark Public Schools, formerly superintendent of alternative high schools for the NYC Department of Education. Served as ED of Teach for America NY, served as chief program officer for New Leaders for New Schools.
  • Jon Alfuth (teacher, Memphis) – teacher, writer, public commentator, serves as a Teach Plus policy fellow and Tennessee Educator fellow (hey, its our tournament!)
  • JC Bowman (ProEdTN) – Executive Director and CEO of PET. Fomer school teacher and VP of the National Association of Professional Educators. Served as chief policy analyst for the Education Policy Unit for Gov. Jeb Bush. Received 2003 SMART award from the National institute for Education options, and much more (hey, its our tournament!)
  • Andy Spears (consultant, Nashville) – Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, president of Spears Strategy, editor/writer at TNEdReport. Formerly a press secretary in the Tennessee State Senate (hey, its our tournament!)
  • Emily Barton (TN Department of Education) – Assistant Commissioner of Curriculum and Instruction for Tennessee. Served as Chief of Staff to Commissioner Huffman previously, and managed Teach for America’s DC region. Former 7th grade math teacher in Louisiana.
  • Chris Barbic (TN, ASD) – Superintendent of the Achievement School District, founder of Yes Prep charter schools in Houston, TX. Former public school teacher. Received 2004 Citizen Activist Award from Gleitsman Foundation.

Full rules and voting information over at Bluff City Ed.

Voting for the Round of 32 starts tomorrow and ends on November 23rd.

 

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

 

ASD Flexes Muscles in Memphis

Jon Alfuth over at Bluff City Ed has an update on the ASD and its actions in Memphis and in Nashville.

Alfuth’s report includes information on the teacher group organizing against ASD takevovers and concerns expressed by Shelby County Schools Superintenent Dorsey Hopson.

Most troubling is the notes about Chris Barbic’s remarks asserting the ASD could take all 85 schools on the priority list and noting that the ASD has been essentially playing nice up to this point.

Here’s the excerpt:

The most interesting and worrisome part of the last article for me are two quotes from Chris Barbic, the ASD’s Superintendent. First, Roberts quotes him as saying

“I think its important to remind everyone that a lot of things we are doing are by choice. If we wanted to, we could take over all 85 schools next year (bold added by me for emphasis).”

Second, he also states that they don’t have to do a matching process but that they have chosen to do so, and laments that they are being “beaten up” for what they are doing. He also says that they (presumably the community) “would be beating us up for not doing it (the matching process).”

These quotes trouble me because they perpetuate the message Memphians have been getting that “we (the ASD) have the power, and you should be thankful that we’re including you.” While I don’t know what else was said in the interview, it worries me that this is the type of rhetorical language that we’re seeing in the wake of a strong anti-ASD outpouring. Barbic does qualify his first quote by stating that they’ve chosen to work with SCS instead of pursing the total takeover course of action, but the lead sentence makes it clear who really has the decision making power.

In the end, the ASD opposition is all about who has the power to improve our schools, and quotes like this don’t do anything to alleviate the idea growing locally that the ASD is engaged in a hostile takeover of Memphis.

The entire update is worth a read.

I tend to agree with Jon that the challenge to the ASD is essentially about power. Parents, teachers, and even SCS leaders feel like they lack the power to make decisions about the schools.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

NEA President Visits Nashville

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia was in Nashville today to kickoff American Education Week.

While in town, the visited Shwab Elementary where she toured the school and served as a guest teacher in a first grade classroom.

After the tour and class visit, Garcia was available to the media.

Here are some highlights of what she had to say:

On education policymaking:

“Policymakers should respect educators. We don’t need top-down management of teachers. We need to trust teachers and treat them like professionals. When we begin trusting teachers and providing them with resources, we’ll unleash a true revolution education.”

On Common Core:

Garcia says she was initially a Common Core skeptic. But says she reviewed the standards for 6th grade, which she taught, and found them to be reasonable. She said Common Core is and should be a state initiative.

“Common Core belongs to the states and states should adapt it to meet their needs. In order for Common Core to work, we need to get back to trusting teachers. Common Core sets the standard. Teachers should decide how to meet those standards. Where Common Core has failed, it is because of top-down management. Implementation must include teachers and trust teachers to meet the standards.”

On Value-Added Modeling:

“Voodoo value-added models are silly. They are silly because the voodoo formula can’t control for factors like poverty that impact kids. They can’t control for the fact that a kid may be hungry or may be an English Language Learner taking a test in English instead of their native language.

“I was the Utah Teacher of the Year. I know that kids are more than a test score. I’m not afraid of evaluation, I welcome it. Data can be helpful, but high-stakes use of value-added data is not appropriate.”

On NEA’s Education Agenda:

“NEA wants to end No Child Left Untested,” Garcia said. “2014 is the magic year when all kids were supposed to be proficient. Now, we’ve got a waiver process because that goal is simply not possible with human students. This just shows that NCLB was a fraud.

“NEA wants the federal government to set standards and provide resources and then listen to teachers and local communities.”

On Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander’s Agenda with the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee:

“NEA shares common ground with Sen. Alexander on the need for local control and an end to the waiver process for NCLB. We also agree with him on the need to focus more on National Board Certification for teachers.

“Where we differ with Sen. Alexander is on his push for privatization, whether it be vouchers or charters. If Sen. Alexander respects science and data, he’ll see that charters and vouchers simply don’t work.”

On creating an “all-choice” zone in East Nashville:

Garcia said she wasn’t familiar with the specifics of the East Nashville plan, but said, “Whenever you see people pushing grand plans to expand charters, they’re just not reading the research. The research shows that charters aren’t any better than district schools.”

She also suggested that the few charter success stories happen as a result of significant outside money being poured in. “If districts saw that kind of money coming into their schools, they’d see a difference, too.”

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

 

Why TN Teachers Didn’t Like Kevin Huffman

Kevin Huffman announced yesterday he’s leaving his post as Commissioner of Education. The news was met positively by many teachers around the state. But, why didn’t Tennessee teachers care for Kevin Huffman? Why did a number of local teacher associations vote “no confidence” in Huffman in 2013? Why did Directors from across the state sign a letter telling the Governor that Huffman needed to do a better job?

I wrote a post for a different blog back in 2011, Huffman’s first year, about his remarks on teacher evaluation. In short, he got off to a bad start in terms of communicating with and about teachers, and never recovered.

Here’s that post from 2011 in its entirety, with some notes about what has happened since then included:

Tennessee’s Commissioner of Education, Kevin Huffman, offered his thoughts today on the state’s new evaluation system for teachers which takes effect this year.

 

While I certainly agree that the evaluation system needed significant improvement, I have some concerns about the Commissioner’s statements.

 

Specifically, he notes:

 

Tennessee is now a few weeks into a new era of evaluation. The new system is strong, though not perfect, and it represents a dramatic leap forward over the past system that told nearly all teachers they had succeeded, even when students had failed.

 

This statement assumes that the poor performance of Tennessee students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) was solely or primarily the result of bad teachers. By his calculations, since 70 percent of students failed to meet satisfactory progress on the NAEP, 70 percent of Tennessee teachers must not be performing up to par.

 

What’s missing from his analysis, however, is the reality that until 2010, Tennessee had incredibly low standards relative to the NAEP. In fact, nearly 87% of students were deemed proficient on TCAPs despite only 27% testing proficient on the NAEP. Here’s the deal: Tennessee schools were held accountable under NCLB for hitting TCAP benchmarks. Tennessee policymakers set the standard. And Tennessee teachers were hitting the mark they were told was important. In fact, data suggest more and more Tennessee students were marching toward TCAP proficiency each year. By that indicator, Tennessee teachers were doing a fine job. Policymakers set a target, and Tennessee teachers hit it year after year. Since curriculum and accountability were not tied to NAEP, it seems unreasonable to expect that teachers would be helping students hit NAEP benchmarks.

 

Huffman’s remarks also ignore this reality: Tennessee spends less per student than most of our neighboring states. 8 states test 100% of graduates on the ACT. Tennessee ranks 7th in that group, below every other state that spends MORE per pupil than Tennessee. Kentucky spends about $1500 more per student than Tennessee and gets significantly better results on the NAEP year after year. The point being: teachers can only do so much with limited resources and our state has done a pretty good job of limiting the resources.

 

Huffman also notes:

 

As new student assessments are developed and vetted by Tennessee educators and experts, we expect that next year, it will be possible for 70 percent of teachers to be evaluated by their own student-assessment results. Eventually, more than 90 percent of teachers will have such options.

This dream still hasn’t been realized — Portfolios are available for some non-tested subjects, but are not in wide use due to cost.

So more teachers will have their own value-added data. This means more assessments (TESTS) for Tennessee students. Will there now be TCAP-like tests in grades K-2? As the parent of a Kindergartener, I certainly hope not. What about related arts? Will there be a written test for an instrumental music course? Or is the value-added that a student who previously struggled with the flute now excels? How is that measured? In performance-based art, music, and theatre classes, will more time be spent drilling on concepts so a kid can pass a written test rather than on actually improving one’s ability to draw, sing, or perform?

 

Finally, the new evaluations are time-intensive and do provide regular feedback. That’s a good thing. However, there’s no indication of available funding for meaningful professional development tied to the evaluations. There is yet to be a serious discussion of funding for mentors for early career teachers to help them get up to speed on key concepts and improve their technique. Teach for America (where Huffman worked as a teacher and then as a national organizational leader) relies heavily on intensive support for their Corps members. Lessons are video-taped, coaches are provided, feedback is regular and strategies for improvement are offered. Research suggests that intensive mentoring in the first two years of a teacher’s career not only improves their practice and increases retention, but also results in higher student achievement.

 

Tennessee’s new evaluation system for teachers is no doubt an improvement. But unless that system is coupled with meaningful support for teachers and adequate classroom resources, we’ll still find ourselves far behind the rest of the country.

There’s been no significant commitment to professional development or intensive mentoring by the state. Teachers didn’t get a promised raise this year.

So, Tennessee teachers started off hearing from Huffman that they had failed. Then, resources for support didn’t materialized and the transition to Common Core wasn’t well-communicated. Huffman suggested the same flawed, value-added based evaluations were responsible for a 2013 NAEP boost, and then a promised pay raise was taken away.

Is it any wonder Tennessee teachers aren’t too sad to see Huffman go?

 

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

After Huffman: Who Will Be the Next Commissioner of Education?

Kevin Huffman is leaving his job as Commissioner of Education to pursue private sector opportunties, it was announced yesterday.

In my initial post, I mentioned three names of potential candidates for Tennessee’s next Commissioner of Education. Totally speculative on my part, but with good reasons for each. Today, I’ll talk a little more about each one and provide some background.

SCORE President Jamie Woodson

Woodson is a former member of the Tennessee General Assembly, first serving in the House, then moving on to the Senate, where she served as Chair of the Education Committee and later as Speaker Pro Tem, the number two job in that body. Woodson was intstrumental in the BEP overhaul known as BEP 2.0. So, she understands education issues and especially the BEP, which is getting lots of attention as districts seek more state funding.

Woodson is from Knoxville, where Haslam was Mayor. She understands the legislative process and has relationships that could be helpful to passing the Governor’s agenda in both bodies of the General Assembly. It’s also been rumored that she may someday be a candidate for Governor. Serving as Education Commissioner would give enhance her credentials for the state’s top job.

Here’s her bio from the SCORE website:

Jamie guides SCORE’s work as President and CEO and has been a leading figure in spearheading Tennessee’s efforts to better prepare students for college and the workforce. Prior to leading SCORE, she served for more than 12 years in the Tennessee General Assembly in both the House and Senate. As Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and later as Senate Speaker Pro Tempore, Jamie was a key leader in efforts to identify and support effective teaching, overhaul Tennessee’s K-12 education funding formula, raise academic standards for Tennessee students, turn around low-performing schools, and expand high-quality public charter schools in Tennessee. In addition, she was a key leader in Tennessee’s work to transform public higher education by aligning Tennessee’s postsecondary system and the state’s economic goals through changes in academic, fiscal, and administrative policies. As a citizen legislator, she also served as general counsel for an East Tennessee manufacturing firm.

Jamie serves on numerous statewide boards, including Tennessee Business Roundtable, and is a member of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Jamie received a Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She was selected as “Torchbearer,” which is the highest honor an undergraduate may receive from the university. Jamie attended public schools in Tennessee.

Deputy Commissioner of Education Kathleen Airhart

Airhart has served as Deputy Commissioner of Education Since late 2011. She is a former Tennessee Superintendent of the Year. She served as Director of Schools in Putnam County, where she worked with the local education association to design a differentiated pay plan.

Like Woodson, she is a Tennessean. She’s also an educator, which may placate the teachers and superintendents who have complained that Huffman doesn’t understand their jobs due to his limited experience in the classroom. Tapping Airhart makes sense as she’s been with the Department for most of Huffman’s tenure and she would have immediate credibility with educators.

Knox County Director of Schools Jim McIntyre

McIntyre, like Woodson, is from Knoxville. He and Haslam reportedly had a good relationship when Haslam was Mayor. While technically an outsider (McIntyre came to Knoxville from a post in Boston), he’s been in Tennessee for some time now and understands the state’s education landscape.

It was rumored that McIntyre was considered by Haslam’s for the job in 2011, but he was relatively new to Knox County then and chose to stay in that role. McIntyre now faces a School Board less friendly to his pro-reform agenda and may want to take the opportunity to exit rather than face a combative Board.

Here’s his bio from the Knox County Schools site:

Dr. Jim McIntyre has served in the field of education for more 20 years, with experience at both the K-12 and post-secondary levels.  He began his tenure as Superintendent of the Knox County Schools in July, 2008.  In his first year as Superintendent, Dr. McIntyre led the school system and the community through a process that produced a focused vision for the future of the Knox County Schools and a five-year strategic plan designed to achieve Excellence for All Children.

Prior to his appointment in Knoxville, Dr. McIntyre served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Boston Public Schools, where he was responsible for the day to day operations of the school district.  Jim had also served as the Budget Director for the Boston Public Schools for seven years. During Dr. McIntyre’s tenure, the Boston Public Schools was named one of the top performing urban school systems in the nation.

As a teacher at Vincent Grey Alternative High School in East St. Louis, Illinois early in his career, McIntyre taught English, anatomy, and physical education to a diverse group of at-risk students between the ages of 16-21.

McIntyre has served on numerous state-level working groups aimed at enhancing public education, and was also selected as a fellow in the prestigious Broad Foundation Superintendent’s Academy, an intensive ten month fellowship in the urban public school superintendency.

In 2010, Governor Phil Bredesen invited Dr. McIntyre and three others to join him in presenting Tennessee’s Race to the Top proposal to the United States Department of Education.  Tennessee was one of only two states in the country to be selected in the first round of this national competition, and was awarded $501 million for school reform and improvement.

As a parent of two Knox County Schools students, Dr. McIntyre is incredibly honored that the state-wide Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has named him the Tennessee Outstanding Superintendent of the Year for three consecutive years (2009, 2010, and 2011).

Dr. McIntyre holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Boston College, a Master of Science degree in Education Administration from Canisius College, a Master of Urban Affairs from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts.

 

It’s entirely possible there are other names being considered, but these three seem to fit with support for the Haslam agenda and some connection to the Governor.

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