Tennessee Education Association

Great Public Schools for All Students

            

State’s use of value-added scores in high-stakes decisions unfairly penalizes students, educators and schools

In 2015, the TEA Board of Directors set a "Big Hairy Audacious Goal": "TEA will work to ELIMINATE high-stakes decisions based on standardized tests that affect Tennessee’s educators, students and schools by the year 2020."

So what’s next in the fight for fair, accurate measures of student and teacher performance?

Even if there are no issues administering the test, standardized test scores of a summative year-end test like TNReady are not valid measures of student achievement, teacher effectiveness or school performance. 

Numerous studies have shown it is inappropriate to use value-added scores generated from standardized tests to evaluate teachers and schools. The state’s use of these scores in high-stakes decisions unfairly penalizes students, educators and schools.

“Years of state testing failures have destroyed the trust of educators, parents and students in the state assessment system,” said TEA President Beth Brown. “Under pressure from TEA members and other public education advocates, legislators did the right thing and passed hold-harmless legislation for the 2017-18 school year. Now we must capitalize on this momentum and make meaningful changes to student and teacher accountability.”

While the legislature is not in session, there is much work to be done at the local level. Support from local boards of education and parent allies can go a long way toward helping TEA achieve its goal of eliminating high-stakes decisions based on standardized tests.

“Teachers are not opposed to testing or evaluation,” Brown said. “We just want a fair system that accurately measures student achievement and teacher performance. Tests can be powerful diagnostic tools for teachers, but only when they are designed and implemented in a fair and meaningful way. That is not what we have right now with TNReady.”

As school starts back, TEA is implementing an organizing effort called “2020 Vision,” that will work to accomplish the association’s “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” of eliminating high-stakes decisions based on test scores by 2020.

“We must get back to focusing on what is best for students: more time for one-on-one attention and instruction, learning critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and creativity through a well-rounded education to set our children up for academic success. Of all the things we teach our kids, the most important is love of learning, which no standardized test can measure.”

Look for more to come on TEA’s 2020 Vision. In the meantime, contact your local president or UniServ coordinator to get involved in the push for fair and accurate measures of student, teacher and school performance.

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