Home Author Sue Culverhouse Teachers Take On the New Evaluation System

Sue Culverhouse

Teachers Take On the New Evaluation System

Following a recent article I wrote on the new teacher evaluation system in Tennessee, I received an overwhelming response from readers. As you will see, teachers in Tennessee are extremely unhappy, and are thinking of looking for new careers outside the school system. Our state legislators are beginning to hold discussions of the situation and not a moment too late.

Sadly, I read recently that some business leaders don’t want the evaluation systems “watered down.” I suggest that each of these business “geniuses” try evaluating each and every one of their employees numerous times a year after holding weeks of intensive training; then they can see what happens to the bottom line after they lose all this time in “evaluating” their teams. In other words, they need to literally MYOB, as I tell my students. In case you don’t know, that stands for MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!

Below are a sample of those e-mails and Facebook posts (with names concealed to protect the innocent!)

I taught school for 38 years and now am a mentor for transitional teachers. I am in the schools about every day, and I have never seen teachers so frustrated and stressed. You are right. It will change in a year or two, but until that time teachers are having to endure the pain. Thanks for telling it like it is. The general public does not understand.

Another teacher wrote in and spoke about the stresses that teachers have been placed under…

Just wanted to say that you got it right in the article New Teacher Evaluation Model-Fair or Foul?

I am a 32 year TN teacher. I teach elementary and have always loved my job. Both of my daughters are licensed teachers. But teaching has become very stressful. I spent numerous hours preparing the “perfect” lesson for my announced observation. As one person put it, “On a one to five scale, teachers are the kind of people who want to be a six.” So true.

I am also loaded daily with paperwork, learning to use new technology, planning, creating weekly literacy work station materials, documentation, totally new ways of presenting subject matter, state standards, common core standards (which read like college textbooks), and of course school fund raisers. I not only must be diligent for my class but must be diligent to work and plan with my grade level team to stay ‘on the same page.’

You can change all the rules and regulations for teaching, but children are still children and need time to grow, mature, and to love learning and school. School is moving way to fast for young developing minds, who need their own pace for learning and absorbing skills.

I feel so spread on all that I must do. I just want time to concentrate on being creative in my classroom, making class an enjoyable experience for the students, and time to know each student well and help each reach attainable goals.

I’m not an 8 to 3 teacher, I come in at 7 some days and work many days to 5, plus hours on Saturdays, but school is becoming all consuming in order for me to feel like I am doing everything well.

Where are those poor performing teachers that lawmakers keep talking about? They certainly aren’t at my school.

While another teacher would like legislators to spend time in the classroom before they are critical about the job that our teachers are doing.

GREAT ARTICLE!!! I really would like that legislator sitting in my classroom. I’d give him/her a stack of papers to grade!

A West Tennessee teacher chimed in…

I just stumbled across the article that you wrote about the new evaluation process and I had to e-mail you. Thank you for writing what we’ve all been thinking and saying! I’m a Spanish teacher in West Tennessee, and these evaluations are awful! That stupid lesson plan took me an hour and a half to fill out, I followed all the directions we were given, and I still only got two 3?s and a 4 on it! This is my fifth year teaching, and I’m a good teacher. I know I still have a lot to learn, but the majority of my students enjoy my class, they learn the material, and very few fail it, so to have to prove that I’m a good teacher when I’m being evaluated on such a ridiculous scale is a slap in the face. So on behalf of all of us who aren’t able to communicate to a large audience like you are, THANK YOU!

Another teacher feels that the evaluation system was not designed to be workable to begin with…

Another ludicrous proposition! Excellent article, as usual.

You do realize that this system is doomed for failure because it is going to be physically impossible for building administrators to complete. How many principals have you ever worked for who managed to complete all of their annual evals adequately and on time? I know one. The rest of them certainly dropped the ball in terms of meaningful assessments even if they managed to get them all done. (I’m referring to the numerous teachers who have been granted tenure through the years because their principals failed to document their shortcomings. It has always galled me that teachers’ unions take the flack for fighting for incompetent teachers when it’s administrators and school boards who’ve awarded them tenure in the first place!….But that’s another story.)

In a “normal” evaluation system, not every teacher is evaluated every year! If they can’t manage that, how in the world will they ever manage four observations per year for every teacher??? Ain’t happenin’……..The stupidity is overwhelming.

We wouldn’t have all the problems with this system if teachers had been consulted before the system was put into place.

You can tell someone who has never worked as a teacher come up with that great idea. If people only knew what a teacher really has to do, they wouldn’t believe it. I know I can’t.

Great article Sue! If we can just get them to listen…

Are you listening yet?

Another teacher points out that the evaluation system is all stick no carrot.

Somewhere someone came up with the idea that society’s woes can be attributed to poor teaching. Consequently, all teachers now need to be evaluated by a new system that is supposed to weed out the ‘bad teachers’ and “reward the good ones.” Of course, no model for rewards has been forthcoming.

The evaluation system is driving good teachers away from teaching.

I can see a lot of teachers walking away from a job they use to love and I can’t blame them!!! That is ridiculous!!

People just don’t understand what teachers have to go through to make the grade…

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing the articles about what teachers & administrators must go through to ‘make the grade’ in the school system with your truthful articles. As I am an elementary school teacher myself, I can (and my co-workers as well) completely identify with what you’ve so bravely written about what we must go through each and every week (and day) in order to “make the grade” in the school system.

This is ridiculous! Instead of spending family time on the weekends (or for any other event for that matter), I must make my meticulous lesson plans to turn in each week to my administrators. Most times, they don’t have time to even look at them because they are evaluating other teachers! None the less, we must have them either turned in or on our desk for review.

I’m so glad that someone is telling the community what educators must go through in order to be declared ‘rock solid teachers.’ Thank you for the revealing articles. Teachers and administrators will NEVER earn what we’re all really worth! At our school, we make sure to cut out your articles and place them so that everyone (mostly faculty, because we aren’t allowed to put them in the hallways- LOL) can view them and feel proud that at least there’s someone like you to tell it like it is in our school system today!

I worked hard for 5 long years (1st year part-time to see to my son) in college, after 20 years of being out of high school, to become what I feel I was called to be–a teacher. I graduated Summa Cum Laude. Now I’m left feeling like, “What did I get myself into?”. Before long, there may be a BIG shortage of teachers due to this crazy evaluation system! I pray that things will change by next school year, but I’m not very optimistic.

God bless you for telling it like it is!

Criticism of TVAAS

One person posted that I didn’t know what I was talking about on TVAAS (although what I wrote came right off the Tennessee Department of Education website!) Here are some responses to that jab:

Comparing Apples to Oranges:

Sorry, bapman. (1)You shouldn’t be speaking to TVAAS either. The writer is correct. The proven system you refer to is a bought and paid for system that is advertised to measure student growth from year to year… that is called longitudinal growth. The fact is, the subject material the students are required to learn is not the same year to year. So the system compares apples to oranges. If we were comparing a piano student’s growth from year to year we are looking at apples to apples. In schools, take 6th, 7th and 8th grade Social Studies for an example. 6th grade is World History, 7th grade is World Geography, and 8th grade is World History. Since you are such an acolyte of Dr. Sanders, please explain the correlation between any of the three subjects listed above. Back to the piano analogy, it is like learning piano one year, cooking the next and calculating a number that indicates the growth of that learner based on those two very different subjects that share few common ski!

(2) I appreciate your honesty on the matter of the paperwork and time… they are at the least as the writer describes, you should admit you really only know what you’ve read about the TVAAS system and that is the sales pitch. In practice, for education in particular, it is an entirely different creature not well suited for how it is being used. Regards…

TVAAS as junk science

TVAAS is, as Harvard University dubbed it, junk science. There is no standard measure of error for major life changes that so many students undergo… or hormones.. or coming into driving age and freedom for that matter.

Smart students inadvertently penalize great teachers

While there is no system of measures that is 100% perfect, there is at least one major flaw in the TVAAS system; how it measures teachers against very high achieving students scores. Take for example a teacher who teachers CLUE or honors classes at the junior high/middle school level. If students come into his/her classroom testing in the 95-97 percent range on their TCAP tests from the previous year(s), that teacher has a very difficult task of moving students where there is practically no room to move. Even though that teacher is well above state/system averages, he is scored accordingly by TVAAS as an ineffective teacher.

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