No Approved Alternatives

The Tennessee Department of Education doesn’t give a damn about teachers. At all. Not one. And, apparently, they are also willing to ignore legislators. You know, the people tasked with both making laws and funding budgets. That’s the clear message from the attitude demonstrated by the TNDOE around the issue of Pre-K/Kindergarten Portfolios.

Here’s the deal: On May 10th, Public Chapter 376 became law — it’s legislation designed to create alternatives to the current portfolio disaster. The law states that districts may use the current (failed) portfolio model or “an alternative academic growth indicator approved by the state board of education.”

So, teachers will finally get relief from the fiasco that has been K portfolios.

IF the state has an approved alternative. Which they don’t.

Here’s the text of an email from Jaime Grimsley, Senior Director of Educator Effectiveness at the TNDOE (total bs job title):

The department is working with the State Board of Education to recommend alternative growth options to portfolio in early grades.  At this time, there are no approved alternatives to implement and all districts should move forward with implementing portfolios for the 2019-20 school year. Our goal is to have approved alternatives ready for use in the 2020-21 school year. 

Translation: We didn’t do what teachers asked and what legislators mandated. We don’t want to and you can’t make us.

Here’s more on how the TNDOE has failed educators and students in the portfolio process:

Kindergarten teachers I talked to estimate the evidence collection process takes up a minimum of five instructional days. This means students aren’t actively engaged in the learning process during the evidence collection days. As in the scenario with Eric, it requires the full attention of the teacher (and if possible, an assistant) in order to collect the evidence. This doesn’t include the tagging of evidence or the uploading to an often unreliable online platform known as Educopia. Some districts report hiring subs on evidence collection days so teachers can document the evidence from their students.

Eric’s story is just one more example of a Department of Education that claims victory when the evidence suggests much improvement is needed. It’s a Department hellbent on pursuing supposedly lofty goals no matter the consequences to students or their teachers.
Lost instructional time due to portfolio evidence collection? No problem!
Days of stress and chaos because TNReady doesn’t work? Outstanding!
Teachers faced with confusing, invalid evaluations? Excellent!
Eric and his teachers and Tennessee’s schools and communities deserve better.

So, teachers and students will have to wait ONE MORE YEAR until the DOE actually provides an alternative model. That means your Kindergarten student will be losing instructional time and that teachers across the state will be forced to jump through meaningless hoops in order to meet a ridiculous mandate.

Does the TNDOE care? Nope. Not at all.

Will legislators hold them to account? They haven’t yet, and there’s no sign the current crop of lawmakers or the Governor will do one damn thing to make the TNDOE responsive to the needs of those in classrooms.

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

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One thought on “No Approved Alternatives

  1. Ridiculous! Especially since most districts already have mandated data collection systems in place to monitor student progress. Thank you for keeping us updated. And please keep yelling for relief for all teachers affected by the fiasco.

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