NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee State Board of Education approved the first reading of a policy aimed at minimizing the paperwork for teacher licenses. Despite nearly a year of discussion, low students test scores is no longer being considered as a way to prevent renewal.
“A teacher’s license is their livelihood,” Terrance Gibson, Tennessee Education Association (TEA) Assistant Executive Director said. “If you lose that…you don't come back from that.”
Last summer Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman proposed a controversial policy that would the use student test scores as a criteria for licensure renewal in an effort to keep chronically low performing teachers out of the classroom.
“Those teachers of Tennessee organized,” Gibson explained. “They contacted their legislators, lawmakers and policy people to share how inequitable such policy would be.”
Teacher mobilization was part of a broader strategy. Their message was that a test score is an unfair and inexact measurement of how capable they are and can be.
“When it doesn't work with the board the next alternative is to turn to the legislature,” he added.
This session the Tennessee Education Association successfully lobbied to have laws changed. On Monday, when the State Board of Education discussed the issue there was no mention of tying student test scores to teacher licenses.
“That authority has been taken away so it will be up to school systems to monitor themselves,” Huffman said about how the new licensure policy will not be used as quality control.
“I think it works. I think we got the support basically of the broader education community in doing it this way,” State Board of Education Chairman Fielding Rolston added.
But the TEA said its work on this particular issue is far from over.
“This has been a march toward equity.”