I’m afraid only John Young and Kilroy are going to have any interest in this one.  But yesterday Tennessee (that other state which is serious about education)  released their status report covering the 2011-2012 year.

The surprise to everyone but teachers:  educators are not really doing a bad job.  In fact, they are doing a very good job.

Tennessee went to a teacher evaluative process this past year as part of its Race to the Top.  The evaluative process was full of holes.  If you taught a subject that was not part of the evaluative process, you received the score from those who were evaluated.  For example, if you taught Latin,  French, or German, your evaluative rating was dependent upon how the Spanish students did.

Big hole.

But overall the process achieved results. That is the bottom line. First in my particular line of interest, here are the high school results.

High School Results

And here is the data:

Data of High School Results
The results show measured achievement.  Irregardless of why, results are apparent.

Now for those interested in entry levels: Grades 3-8

And there is the data.  You will need to right click then click on image to show the last few columns.

Data Grades 3-8

The evaluation process worked this way.  Every teacher gets a score that uses a lot of different methods to achieve a result.   50% of each teachers score derived from evaluations performed in their classroom by an outside observer.  15% came from a school team score that applied to all within that school which was based on how the entire school scored over that academic year.  And 35% was based on the test scores from the students tests themselves. Now, when all was said and done,  we  got these results.

Results of Evaluations Compared To Test Scores

The top line is the spread of students over the rubric of 1-5.  The bottom line is the spread of teacher’s evaluations over the rubric of 1-5.  The discrepancy is disturbing to some. How can teachers who are doing such a great job as rated by objective evaluators, not be achieving growth in their students achievement scores?  Is there something flawed in the system?  Is there a bias on the part of administrators, who even after intensive training, multiple evaluations and thorough preparation,  are not making honest evaluations of those teachers who are achieving below level results?

Let me just take one minute to express how powerful these teaching results are. Level 1 was significantly below standard; Level 2 was below standard; Level 3 was performing at standard.  Level 4 was above standard.  Level 5 was significantly higher than standard. Of all the public school teachers in Tennessee, 97.6% were at standard or above.

The 4’s and 5’s together made up 76.2% of the teaching force.  In fact the only amount of teaching judged to be sub-par, was 2.2% of all teachers, with an additional 0.2% of teachers significantly below standard.

So after all the beating up of lazy, unproductive teachers embedded in the Tennessee Department of Education, it appears that when finally looked at, when finally evaluated, when finally putting someone into a class room to see just exactly what it is that teachers are doing and, when reporting that on a rubric scale of 1 through 5, ….. Tennessee teachers are doing a pretty fine job.

But the test scores of the students don’t match up.  It now appears they have great teachers but somehow the students don’t appear to be absorbing all that great teaching.

Ummmm.  Did you ever consider the problems just might lie with the students and their parents?

After all, this is the same state whose grandparents repeatedly voted in legislators who still believed  evolution is false science, who once believed that no black could never compete on the same level as a white person.

But that said, for all the flawed reasons, real change did occur.  At least 55,000 more students are now “at or above” the standard levels in math than were in 2010.  38,000 more students are “at or above” standard level in science than were in 2010.

In real terms, if you were one of those 55,000….. you now have a real shot at life …. Reasons this worked.
1)   Educators have a clear and more rigorous performance expectations.
2)  Educators are receiving more and specific feedback on performance.
3)  This is leading to more self-reflection and collaboration between teachers.
4)  New conversations about the impact of teaching styles on student learning.
5) The hoopla resulted in greater use of individual student data, and created a team atmosphere where this data was discussed among educators across the school.
6)  The evaluations highlighted the importance of individualized learning for teachers.
7) The system now provides principals with a clearer understanding what is required for excellent teaching in their schools.
8) Principal believe this model has moved student achievement forward.
9) Highly promising and diverse sets of practices have emerged across the four models chosen.

Again, the full report is here.

John and Kilroy; be prepared to spend a day putting Pandora’s box back in order… 🙂

And as for my perspective, it appears that the evaluation process did rule out teacher incompetence as part of education’s overall failure, but in a greater capacity, the entire process served its purpose by forcing the bosses to hop down into the dirt with the employees and that, as any student of management 101 will tell you, is always a good thing.

So, I’m in favor.