Policy on teachers licenses changes in Tennessee
This week, the Tennessee State Board of Education withdrew a policy that has brought a great deal of controversy to the state. The policy was going to allow poor student growth on tests as a reason to pull teachers’ licenses.
Instead, an alternative plan was proposed and cleared the state board unanimously. It allows teachers who earn in consecutive years a score of “5” on annual state-mandated teacher evaluations to earn up to 20 of the required 60 professional development credits needed to renew professional licenses.
Teachers who earn a “4” and a “3” would earn fifteen and ten developmental credits respectively. Credit would also be given to teachers for attending professional development seminars, taking college-level coursework and earning National Board Certification.
Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman suggests that while this satisfies the new state law, the plan doesn’t do much to guarantee quality teachers.
Huffman pushed the change last year to set a higher bar for teachers to advance professionally. It received criticism among lawmakers of both parties who felt that stripping teachers of their ability to work was too much.
While evaluations will no longer be linked directly to teacher licensing, Huffman tell us that parents in the communities with poorly graded teachers should know. The state can also intervene and offer in-class observations for the teachers who score low on evaluations and come up with specific improvement plans.
I agree that it’s important to recognize and reward those outstanding teachers out there. This proposal seems like a good start. Next it is time to concentrate on how to help the teachers with lower scores greatly improve.