Tennessee Education Association

Great Public Schools for All Students


Successful Kindergarten fight blazes trail for improving portfolio systems in other subject areas

The bill requiring Kindergarten and Pre-K teachers are held harmless for portfolio scores in the 2017-18 school year passed both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly unanimously and was signed by Gov. Bill Haslam April 18. 

“It is a clear victory for TEA and a testament to members organizing at the local and state levels to affect change once they saw the revised portfolio system was not working,” said TEA President Barbara Gray. “From the moment teachers noticed clustered standards set by the state were developmentally inappropriate for Kindergarten and pre-K students, we worked tirelessly with our members and legislators to make meaningful and lasting changes are in place for the next school year.” 

Sponsored by Knoxville Republicans Sen. Becky Duncan Massey and Rep. Eddie Smith, SB1854/HB1686 mandates the state gather feedback from Kindergarten and pre-K teachers to improve the portfolio system. 

“The work of improving these and other standards is just beginning,” Gray said. “We are calling on teachers to engage with the state Department of Education to ensure teacher feedback drives the process of revising the portfolio system for Kindergarten and Pre-K standards going forward.” 

TEA sounded the alarm after teachers in Knox County saw the standards rolled out for the 2017-18 school year had little in common with the portfolio program piloted a year before, which was well received by teachers and deemed developmentally appropriate. 

“We worked with legislators to draft a bill to address teachers’ concerns,” Gray said. “The unanimous passage of this bill is an excellent example of the power of teachers working together to improve teaching and learning in Tennessee. Now it is time to build on this success and address [problems with portfolio systems in other subject areas.”

Gray said TEA has been hearing from teachers in other non-tested grades or subjects using similar portfolio systems plagued with problems. 

“While we are encouraged by the result of our Kindergarten and Pre-K portfolio effort, we know there is work to be done in other subject areas,” Gray said. 

If you are concerned about the standards and scoring rubric in your subject area, please contact TEA Assistant Executive Director of Instructional Advocacy Terrance Gibson at tgibson@tnea.org.

“This fight doesn’t end with the first battle. We want all Tennessee teachers to have fair and accurate model in place to evaluate their teaching effectiveness,” Gray said.

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