Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy
The state should publicly report districts' distribution of teacher talent among schools to identify inequities in schools serving disadvantaged children. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
School-level Data About Teacher Performance: Tennessee publicly reports school-level data about teacher performance.
Annual Teacher Absenteeism Rate: Tennessee does not make available annual teacher absenteeism rates reported for the previous three years, disaggregated by individual school.
Additional Data Provided: Tennessee's ESSA plan includes equity gap calculations for additional student subgroups. By calculating and reporting the rates at which students with disabilities are taught by ineffective, inexperienced, or out-of-field teachers, Tennessee illuminates additional equity gaps, which is an important first step in eliminating those gaps.
Tennessee also calculates and reports equity gaps by content area (i.e., English language arts and mathematics), which illuminate whether certain subjects have more significant or persistent equity gaps and therefore provides Tennessee with an opportunity to more narrowly target its strategies to eliminate existing gaps.
The state does not provide other information, such as the percentage of first- and second-year teachers employed as teachers of record at a certain date or the percentage of teachers on emergency credentials.
School Report Cards https://www.tn.gov/education/topic/report-card Submitted ESSA Plan https://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplan17/tncsa2017.pdf
Report the annual teacher absenteeism rate.
Tennessee should publicly report the annual teacher absenteeism rate as a three-year average. A strong reporting system that reflects effectiveness data along with data on teacher absenteeism can lend much-needed transparency to those factors that contribute to staffing instability and inequity.
Tennessee recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
7F: Distributing Teacher Talent Equitably
Distribution data on teachers across schools should show more than just teachers' years of experience and highly qualified status. Transparency is one of the most important tools states have to promote the equitable distribution of teachers within and across higher and lower-need schools and districts. States generally publicly report little more than what is mandated by federal requirements, which highlight years of experience and highly-qualified status. However, while teaching experience matters, the benefits of experience are largely accumulated within the first few years of teaching. School districts that try to equalize experience among all schools are overestimating its impact. There is no reason why a school with many teachers with only three or five years' experience cannot outperform a school with teachers who have an average of more than 10 years' experience.
For this reason, states need to report data that are more informative about a school's teachers. As more states require evaluation systems based primarily on teacher effectiveness, the most important distribution data that a state can make available is school-level data about teacher performance. This is not to say that individual teacher ratings should be reported, but school level data would shine an important light on whether all students have access to effective teachers.
In addition to performance data, states and districts should also track and report school-level teacher absenteeism rates. When a teacher misses ten or more days of school, the decline in student achievement is often proportionate to the differences in achievement seen between students taught by a new teacher compared to those taught by a teacher with two to three years of experience. Further, studies have found that teachers serving low income and minority students have higher absence rates, on average, which may contribute to the achievement gap. In fact, it is well-documented that these averages are not representative of the bulk of teachers, as 16 percent of teachers account for almost one-third of teacher absences.
States can also provide meaningful information by using an index for quantifying important teacher credentials found to correlate with student achievement. A good example of a strong index is the academic capital index developed by the Illinois Education Research Council, incorporating teachers' average SAT or ACT scores, the percentage of teachers failing basic skills licensure test at least once, the percentage of teachers on emergency credentials, average selectivity of teachers' undergraduate colleges, and the percentage of new teachers. These factors are complicated, so the state should install a system that translates them into something more easily understood, such as a color-coded matrix indicating a high or low score for a school.
States need to report data at the level of the individual school. Only by achieving greater stability in the staffing of individual schools can districts achieve the nation's goal of more equitable distribution of teacher quality. A strong reporting system reflecting effectiveness data and the index described above, as well as data on teacher attrition, teacher absenteeism, and teacher credentials, can lend much-needed transparency to those factors that contribute to staffing instability and inequity.
The lack of such data feeds a misconception that all high-poverty schools are similarly unable to retain staff because of their demographics. Yet, staff stability actually varies considerably across schools with similar numbers of poor and/or minority children. Within-district comparisons are crucial in order to control for as many elements specific to a district as possible, such as a collective bargaining agreement (or the district's personnel policies) and the amount of resources.