“Ineffective,” Veteran, Primary Grade Teacher in Tennessee Resigns

As per a recent article in The Tennessean, it seems yet another teacher has resigned, this time from the 1st grade – a grade in which teacher-level value-added normally does not “count.” This teacher, a 15-year career 1st grade teacher, was recently categorized as “ineffective” in terms of “adding value” to her students’ learning and achievement, as her district added a new test to start holding primary grade teachers accountable for their value-added as well. To read her full letter of resignation and the conditions driving her decision, click here (http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/sumner/2014/06/03/defines-ineffective-teacher/9918539/)

Thirty-five percent of her evaluation score was based on student growth or value-added as determined by the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS), often called outside the state of Tennessee (where it was originally developed) the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS). Both of these systems should be of increasing familiarity to readers/followers of this blog.

But given a different test recently introduced to help evaluate more teachers like her, again in the primary grades for which no other state-level tests exist (like in grades 3-8), just this year she “received a growth score of 1, [after which she] was placed on a list of ineffective teachers needing additional coaching.” Ironically, the person to serve as her mentor, to help her become better than an “ineffective teacher,” was her own student teacher from a few years prior. It seems her new teacher mentor was not able to increase her former-mentor’s effectiveness in due time, however.

But here’s the real issue: In this case, and exponentially growing numbers of cases like this across the country, the district decided to use a national versus state test (i.e., the SAT 10) which can (but should not) be used to test students in kindergarten and 1st grades, and then more importantly used to attribute growth on these tests over time to their teachers, again, to include more teachers in these evaluation systems.

In just this case, this test’s data were run through the TVAAS system – a system that has been evidenced elsewhere in the research to label teachers ineffective or effective despite contradictory data, sometimes 30% to 50% of the time. In other cases, and in all fairness, other systems do not seem to be faring much better. Regardless, when the foolish add a test that is completely different than the tests being (erroneously) used elsewhere for other teachers, and then foolishly assume that the tests should just work, is foolish, to put it lightly, albeit so unfortunately faddish.

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