by Joey Garrison at The Tennessean:
Tennessee’s largest teachers union has turned against the policy of including student learning gains in the evaluation of teachers, a flip that shows its growing discomfort with a major Race to the Top reform.
When Tennessee applied for $501 million in federal Race to the Top funds in 2010, a critical part in landing the coveted grant was that competing stakeholders reach accord on major education policy overhauls. That especially meant the Tennessee Education Association, which agreed to sign on to a new teacher evaluation system that based 35 percent of scores on academic growth of students.
Now, TEA leaders have publicly denounced that system’s reliance on what is known as the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, which uses a complex formula to track student gains and dips against predicted performance. Tennessee had collected value-added data for years, but its First to the Top law finally tied the numbers to policies.
“We do not contend students’ results are inappropriate for use in an evaluation,” TEA President Gera Summerford said. “Our position is that value-added results are too volatile and too imprecise for such important decisions.” . . . .