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VOL. 127 | NO. 96 | Wednesday, May 16, 2012

MCS Teachers Receive Report Cards

By Bill Dries

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With the school year almost over, Memphis City Schools teachers have their grades from the first school year of TEM – the Teacher Effectiveness Measure system approved by the state to evaluate teacher performance.

Memphis City Schools is the only school system in the state to use TEM, which is one of four teacher evaluation models approved by the state to evaluate teachers and determine what kind of professional development help they might need to become better teachers.

The system-wide numbers released Monday, May 14, show 39 percent of the teachers are Level 3 teachers. Level 5 is the highest score in the evaluation and Levels 1 and 2 are assigned to teachers who need improvement or who could possibly be fired as early as June when the school system and principals announce re-election decisions for the 2012-2013 school year.

The 39 percent of teachers in Level 3 was the largest group of teachers. Another 25 percent were Level 4 and 15 percent were Level 5.

Just two percent were Level 1 and 19 percent were Level 2.

Those in the bottom two levels won’t automatically lose their jobs. A principal could recommend and the school system could agree that the teacher would benefit from additional help offered as part of the separate Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (TEI).

That initiative is funded with $90 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as a match by local nonprofits over a seven-year period.

There is that kind of discretion in a multi-part evaluation that includes classroom observations by principals, specific surveys of students, growth in student learning as measured by the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System and student achievement as measured in graduation rates as well as ACT or SAT scores.

The classroom observations are 40 percent of the TEM score with the TVAAS data on student growth counting for 35 percent.

This month, principals begin discussing the TEM scores with teachers at their schools. They then make recommendations to the school system for non re-election, which school system officials term “an employment decision” by the school district.

Non re-election is different from the decision to surplus teachers because there are fewer positions at a school. The surplus decisions allows teachers with seniority to transfer to other schools and “bump” teachers at those other schools who don’t have as much seniority. There is no bumping in non re-election.

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