Tennessee is among the leaders in state efforts to improve teacher evaluations, which means they're also among the first to problem-solve implementation challenges. News that Volunteer State principals aren't voluntarily telling teachers about their bad evaluations
brings some of these challenges to light and raises valid concerns about how results are (or are not) used to help teachers improve.
Instead of hearing the news of a negative evaluation from their principals, some teachers were only aware once they received notification from the state. As difficult as these conversations are bound to be, they are absolutely necessary for helping teachers improve--it's hard to improve if you aren't even aware of an area for growth.
On paper, Tennessee seems aware of this. It is among the 24 states
that explicitly require teachers to receive feedback on their evaluations; other states are silent or just say teachers should get a copy of their rating forms. Training principals how to communicate and use the evaluations is an obvious place to start improving feedback. But it must also go beyond that.
Luckily, Tennessee can look within its own borders for more ideas on how to improve feedback and professional development. A study currently underway in Memphis examines
whether getting one-on-one coaching from experts or access to an online learning community will lead to more improvement. Initial results show promise for one-on-one coaching which provides immediate and targeted feedback.