No Turning Back on Evaluation Reform

News Sentinel, June 15, 2012 | Go to article overview

No Turning Back on Evaluation Reform


The most important sentence in a report on Tennessee's new teacher evaluation process is easy to miss. With media reports focused on shortcomings and the kumbaya call for collaboration, teachers, principals, administrators, legislators and parents shouldn't have to search so hard for the bottom line of the findings by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education.

SCORE was crystal clear: "Tennessee cannot and should not return to the old system or step back from implementation of the new system."

Why? Stark reality explains. "While Tennessee has shown early signs of success in preparing students for the rigors of postsecondary education and the workforce, significant work remains to ensure policy changes create positive results for our students," SCORE wrote. "National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data released in 2011 indicated that although there was no statistical change in the state's fourth and eighth grade reading and math scores from 2009, other states made improvements during this period that pushed Tennessee further down in the rankings."

Based on fourth-grade test scores, Tennessee students ranked 46th in math proficiency and 41st in reading. "Similarly, only 15 percent of students are considered college-ready across all four ACT college benchmarks (English, reading, math, and science)," SCORE wrote.

Let's linger here for a moment. Only one in seven of our students are academically ready to attend college. Workforce readiness is harder to measure but manufacturing jobs, once the ticket to the middle class for those with a high school diploma, go begging because our students aren't ready to work in the higher tech world in which we live. …

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