September 06, 2011

TN New Evaluation System: One size Does not Fit All

I'm not sure if other states are going through what we are ( TN is a Race to the Top state & to be that we have to jump through some hoops ). I am attaching the link of the teacher rubrics so that you can see what is being expected of us.  You will see quickly that this was not designed for art, music, P.E, or any other special area teacher.  CLICK HERE --> TN TEACHER EVALUATION SYSTEM 

However, it isn't just unfair to special area teachers...the whole thing is unrealistic.  The word on the street is that the principals were told not to give 5's.  In my opinion if you are unable to get a score..than the system is unfair.  That is like us having an A-F scale for grading, but never giving (or being able to give) an A.  I'm pretty confident in my teaching (knowing everyone...has room to grow).  I personally feel I'm a 5 in many aspects of teaching...not being cocky...just know what my strengths are! However, as I look at the rubric...I could never score a 5 in many of the areas because of the nature of what we teach!  In assessment & evaluation of my students under the heading PLANNING.....I received a 3.  Even though I had 3 forms of assessment listed that I'd be using...and they saw 2 of them in action during my observation time.....because I did not having writing for included for this lesson...I received a 3.  Oh...what was I teaching in that lesson??!  Tints & shades skylines to 1st graders!!!  Because in my one hour a week that I have the kids...while teaching a new concept and using tempera paint...I have time to break out the pencil and paper for my FIRST GRADERS to write about their project?!?!?!?!  Oh my.  Anyways.

Another result of this is unholy lesson plans!!!!!!!!!!!!  The first week it took me about 4 hrs. I've heard classroom teachers working over 8 hrs!  9..10 page lesson plans are not unheard of under this new system. And those aren't getting teachers 5's!  One teacher was informed if she just had written more to her plans she would have gotten a higher score....but it was fine if she wanted to be a 3 teacher.  That is enough to really anger a person...because in our minds...a 3 is a C.  My school is full of amazing type A personalities that expect much from theirselves and their students.  No way in the world would they want to be considered a C.

Do you wanna see what others are saying about our evaluation was on our local news.  The principal says it will take him 300+ hrs just to do the evaluations this school year.  Does your principal have enough time to spend 50 days out of the year just doing evaluations and nothing else?!?!?! click HERE to see the artical


  1. We start this next year. Not looking forward to losing tenure and going to this new system. Indiana teacher

  2. Wow! That is awful! Do they want all the teachers to quit? How can they rate all the teachers with the same criteria?
    I know several people in VA who are ready to leave teaching because of all the needless paperwork they are required to do. Who has time to teach the children or develop innovative lessons if they are mired in bureaucratic red tape?
    I hope you can win this battle!

  3. I glanced at "the process" grid and then at the rubric for evaluating teachers. Can't believe that anyone could find half the items on the rubric in one 15 minute observation of 1st graders!! Amazing. This has got to be one reason talented people choose other professions!

  4. Whew! I started at a new school this year that has TONS of paperwork. All of the non-connections teachers get 2 hours a day of planning, meaning they teach 4 classes a day. I teach 6 classes a day (same time limits) with a 35 minute planning. . .And, am expected to do the same level of paperwork.

    We have a RIDICULOUS weekly lesson plan template that is -at minimum- 3 pages long. Again, the other teacher have to do 1 week, I have to do 3, because I teach 3 different levels. I then have to make 3 copies of each set of lesson plans. One, I must glue to my wall, one I must put in my "weekly binder" (so ordered by admin) and one I must hardcopy give to my admin.

    My first day of school was August 12th. Since that time, I have had in-class observations from one admin or another lasting at least 20 minutes 5 times. That is more than 1 a week. I've gotten good reviews every time. . .But, really?! 5 times? It's like they're waiting for me to mess up. Or as if they don't trust me to do my job. In what other job would your supervisor directly observe you that often?

    This is just the tip of the completely ridiculous "accountability" pyramid that I climb daily wherein teachers carry all the burden. I also must identify each and every student I teach who didn't not score high enough on the state standardized test and make weekly specific and unique-to-student ancedotal notes about what I am doing in class to help him/her achieve higher scores in math and ELA. This is basically, every kid I teach in one grade and nearly half in the others.

    I'm doing writing assignments this year too. . .And, even though my kiddos in middle school can write. I find having to write in class everyday in art class a little silly.

    I found out last week that this behavior -which I though must be similar throughout all Title I schools in my district- is unique to my admin. Talk about being peeved to do SO MUCH MORE WORK for the same pay as my colleagues doing way less.

    To top it all off my kiddos have earned the opportunity to participate in a PBS documentary based on some work they did in art. . And, my principal is giving me a hard time about a film crew visiting.

    No wonder so few kids get quality educations these days. . .I mean, they do just about everything they can to keep Public school teachers from doing a good job.

  5. I am right down the road from you, and I think this is absolutely crazy! You could not pay me enough to be a principal!
    I did want to tell you that I love your blog...check mine out! I would love some professional feedback!

  6. Same here in Texas! You all are not alone!

  7. I'm having trouble muddling my way through all your forms in a quick read, but I get the substance of it I think.
    NY, where I am, is also a RTTT state, so we've got new evaluation stuff being thrust upon us too, but I actually don't think it's as clearly defined as your state info is yet. Lots of controversy and argument. The bottom line of ours is that a large percentage of the evaluation tool will be based on student growth, with the data taken from assessments/tests as determined by the district. Nobody seems to have noticed that there are many of us that work in disciplines that do not have a standardized assessment tool, so where does that leave us? (Anyhow, I don't want a standardized assessment for art.) And even if I did have an assessment tool, I do not want to be judged, suddenly after 35 years, as "developing" rather than "exemplary" (I don't think that's the official word, but you get the idea) because my kiddos don't show progress on some random assessment. Truth is, I don't care. I want the kids to have the richest experience possible in the art room, without fear that they might not be successful according to an assessment that was given on a day that they overslept and didn't get breakfast, or that their mom lost her job, or that they had a fight with their sibling, or that grandpa is in the hospital, etc.etc... That's exactly the opposite of the non-threatening environment of the art room where everyone is a success if they put forth their best effort.

    I don't have to do the massive paperwork of Amy (thank goodness!) but this crap being pushed on us by the state is certainly a part of my reasoning for retiring in June. I still love my students and have more than a year of lesson ideas in me, and I do not have a plan of what I'll do next, but I know that I don't want to be stressing about assessments and evaluations when I'd rather be creating with kids.

    For younger teachers like you, and Amy and many others, you are being forced into a corner. You are a wonderful teacher; that's obvious, and to suddenly be told that you basically will not be ALLOWED to score as an exemplary teacher is just an absolute abomination.

    Your post has brought out the frustration in us all.

  8. Crap. It is really awful. We have a similarly awful evaluation system and apparently, teachers were expected to receive all 3s. One whole section was on the use of technology in the classroom. First of all, I think I can be a darn good art teacher while using very little technology, (though I really LOVE technology.) Also, the only thing I had available in my room at that time was a teacher computer. How was I supposed to have students "use technology to extend their learning?" I believe they have changed things up this year, but I haven't seen it yet.

    When I taught in TN, I thought the evaluation system they used at the time was really great. That's the sad thing, get rid of a good system for this crazy crap. This was almost 10 years ago, but I remember that, along with my principal, I chose a weaker area for improvement each year. I felt like it was really about helping teachers become better at their jobs. Crazy evaluation systems like these just make you hate your job. Or, at the least, really dread that part of it.

  9. Oh Ted....I am so not feeling sorry for myself ever again! You have got to be kidding! I read the TEAM Rubric and started to have an asthma attack! I can't expand upon what the others have posted except to say, this too shall pass. It seems that these issues arise every few years and then someone gets the courage to shout, "The Emperor is NAKED!!" I hope that you and the entire education association picket the governor's mansion and let him know he put idiots in charge of TEAM! Hang in there, you are an AWESOME ART TEACHER!!!

  10. We are going through big changes in Illinois as well. Evaluation tools are changed, now there is a tiered system, of which the individual evaluations in our district will be posted for all teachers to see! Seniority is almost out the window, and if they really want to get rid of people,they will put a teacher on a lower tier.
    Give me the days when we could just come in and TEACH and not have to look over our shoulders all day!
    Illinois Teacher

  11. Whereas I think it's great to have high standards, it's very discouraging to teacher's if they know they can NEVER attain a 5. So I have adopted a "no stress" idealism to it. Essentially I will continue to do what I have been doing. I'm ok with a 3s and 4s. I don't think I am going to lose my job over it...

  12. I am as frustrated as anyone with this new evaluation system. I teach kindergarten and was told by the evaluator that I will never receive a 4 or 5 because my students are developmentally too young. In short, they are unable to do the things that are required by the rubric. I am spending anywhere from 6 to 8 hours each week on lesson plans that are now required to be so detailed and specific. I know that I am not perfect. I know that there is always room to grow but, I am an EXCELLENT kindergarten teacher. I have always LOVED my job until this year. I am truly considering looking for other work. I work 60+ hours a week. I work during all breaks. I do not have a duty free lunch. I get about 30 minutes of plan time per day. There are days that I do not even have time to use the restroom until 3:30. Add afternoon bus duty several times a year and 7:30 am staff meetings every Monday morning and I have no time for my own own family. It is truly sad. I worry about Tennessee's children. Instead of "Racing to the Top", Tennessee seems to be tumbling to the bottom.

  13. I am an art teacher and just received my first evaluation score of a 2 in the area of 'grouping'. I only have 12 students in the class and I thought it was an amazing lesson on Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. But evidently, I didn't group students, so there was no visible evidence for that rubric, even though I do grouping all the time, but not during this lesson, evidently! So, my evaluation specialist says I need to focus on that aspect of my classroom. What? Why? There are 12 students in the room and we are all working together. Why can't that be considered a group? I got a 2!!!!!

  14. I am an art teacher and just received my first 2 on the rubric, in Tennessee. I had an amazing lesson about Abstract Expressionism, then linked it to Pop Art, and did everything well, including a power point, showing slides and a great lecture, then demonstration, then great questioning, then a tie to math and science, then linking everything to their personal lives, and guess what? I scored a 2 on GROUPING. I have a class of 12 students. I thought that was a group. They were group enough for me, that's for sure. They were interactive and bouncing ideas off each other, and involved in whole group discussion, and I got a 2. Never in my career have I gotten a 2. My educational specialist suggested that I pair them up and ask them the same questioning but instead of whole group response, they should have time to talk with one another and come up with answers in their 'group'. And I am trying to hit 119 points on a rubric in 45 minutes. One other thing that was a 'take-away' from the observed lesson was that if she had only seen the actual activity, meaning, if the kids had had time to actually DO the lesson, she would have scored me higher in some of the rubric. What a load of bricks on a teacher's head who's been at this game for 25 years!