Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Teachers Union: TVAAS is a Bad Way To Evaluate Teachers

Posted on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 4:09 PM

In a last ditch effort to convince the State Board of Education to slow down its decision on whether to rest teacher license renewal decisions on student growth data, the Tennessee Education Association today is taking aim at the state’s chief measuring stick.

The state’s largest teachers union argued to reporters Wednesday that the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, aka TVAAS, is an unreliable estimate of student and teacher performance subject to all the quirks of calculating statistics. Further, they said, it would leave good teachers without licenses.

It’s like using a shovel to fix a light switch or a leaky faucet, said TEA General Counsel Rick Colbert. “It’s not the right tool.”

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman — a big fan of TVAAS data to measure teacher effectiveness — wants the board to approve his plan to revamp license requirements to weed out ineffective teachers. Here’s the full proposal.

In the 2011-12 school year, the state said it renewed almost 350 10-year licenses for teachers who scored a “one” out of “five” possible points on their TVAAS scores that year. Those low-rated teachers could collectively instruct nearly 100,000 students throughout the next decade, the state argues.

Not all of those teachers would have lost their jobs under the proposed rules, though. Simply earning a “one” for a single year would not be enough to deny a license. The state estimates between 100 and 200 teachers, though, would lose their license each year.

Still, the TEA says the system doesn’t allow for standard error, confidence intervals and the like. They point to examples they’ve seen within their ranks where they say good teachers have TVAAS scores that have bounced around. Looking at the state’s own study of a cohort of teachers hired in 2000, the TEA points to 42 percent of them who would have lost their licenses years ago have scores on the rise.

However, a closer look at the data shows more than half of those teachers are scoring a “two” now. About 16 percent are scoring a “three,” with the remaining 4 percent split among teachers scoring a “four” or “five.”

The TEA attorney stopped short of saying they have a legal plan going forward if these new rules are approved, saying “we haven’t approached that sort of analysis of it at this point. Right now we’re hoping that the policy makers make good policy.”

The using TVAAS scores isn’t the only change to the system, but is the most controversial in the revamp. The SBOE, which delayed a vote on this proposal once already, is set to meet Friday via conference call to decide whether to usher in the new licensure rules.

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