Evaluation of Effectiveness : Tennessee

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.

Meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Evaluation of Effectiveness : Tennessee results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/TN-Evaluation-of-Effectiveness--8

Analysis of Tennessee's policies

Commendably, Tennessee requires that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.

New legislation now requires that 50 percent of evaluations must be based on student achievement data. Thirty-five percent of a teacher's yearly evaluation must rely on student growth data from the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) or other comparable growth measure. The remaining 15 percent must be based on other measures of student achievement.

Teachers with TVAAS who teach grades 4-8 may choose among the following achievement measures: state assessments, schoolwide TVAAS, ACT/SAT suite of assessments, "off the shelf" assessments and completion/success in advanced coursework. In addition to the measures already listed, secondary teachers with TVAAS may also choose the following: AP/IB/NIC suites of assessments, graduation rates, postsecondary matriculation and grade 9 promotion to grade10. 

For each evaluation, the person being evaluated must mutually agree with the person conducting the evaluation on which such measures are employed. If the teacher or principal being evaluated does not agree with the measures used, then the person responsible for conducting the evaluation will choose the evaluation measures.

Classroom observations are required, and teachers must be rated using the following multiple rating categories: significantly below expectations, below expectations, at expectations, above expectations and significantly above expectations. 


Recommendations for Tennessee

State response to our analysis

Tennessee was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

Research rationale

Reports strongly suggest that most current teacher evaluations are largely a meaningless process, failing to identify the strongest and weakest teachers. The New Teacher Project's report, "Teacher Hiring, Assignment and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools (CPS)" (July2007) at: http://www.tntp.org/files/TNTPAnalysis-Chicago.pdf, found that the CPS teacher performance evaluation system at that time did not distinguish strong performers and was ineffective at identifying poor performers and dismissing them from Chicago schools. See also Brian Jacobs and Lars Lefgren, "When Principals Rate Teachers," Education Next (Spring 2006). Similar findings were reported for a larger sample in The New Teacher Project's The Widget Effect (2009) at: http://widgeteffect.org/.  See also MET Project (2010). Learning about teaching: Initial findings from the measures of effective teaching project. Seattle, WA: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A Pacific Research Institute study found that in California, between 1990 and 1999, only 227 teacher dismissal cases reached the final phase of termination hearings. The authors write: "If all these cases occurred in one year, it would represent one-tenth of 1 percent of tenured teachers in the state. Yet, this number was spread out over an entire decade." In Los Angeles alone, over the same time period, only one teacher went through the dismissal process from start to finish. See Pamela A. Riley, et al., "Contract for Failure," Pacific Research Institute (2002).
That the vast majority of districts have no teachers deserving of an unsatisfactory rating does not seem to correlate with our knowledge of most professions that routinely have individuals in them who are not well suited to the job. Nor do these teacher ratings seem to correlate with school performance, suggesting teacher evaluations are not a meaningful measure of teacher effectiveness. For more information on the reliability of many evaluation systems, particularly the binary systems used by the vast majority of school districts, see S. Loeb et al, "Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added." The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality (2010). 

There is growing evidence suggesting that standards-based teacher evaluations that include multiple measures of teacher effectiveness—both objective and subjective measures—correlate with teacher improvement and student achievement. For example see T. Kane et al, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next Vol 11 No. 3 (2011); E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." National Bureau of Economic Research (2011); as well as Herbert G. Heneman III, et al., "CPRE Policy Brief: Standards-based Teacher Evaluation as a Foundation for Knowledge- and Skill-based Pay," Consortium for Policy Research, 2006.