Washington County school board joins licensure opposition

Nathan Baker • Oct 4, 2013 at 8:45 AM

Following the leaders of other local districts, the Washington County Board of Education unanimously voted Thursday to send a resolution to state officials decrying a new policy that hinges teaching licenses largely on students’ performance on standardized tests.

The resolution recommended by Director of Schools Ron Dykes used language similar to a resolution approved last month by the Johnson City Board of Education, calling the state licensure policy “inequitable and counterproductive.”

“How soon can you get it to them?” board member David Hammond quipped over the applause from district staff members in the audience after the policy was approved.

The resolution, signed by each of the board members, will be presented to Gov. Bill Haslam, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, district representatives in Nashville and other officials.

“I think the school board recognizes that teaching is a true calling — we saw three examples of that tonight,” Hammond said, recognizing by name the recipients of the district’s Teacher of the Year Award. “These are three people we don’t want to see leave education because Nashville doesn’t get it.”

After the state Board of Education passed the policy in August, teachers’ organizations, school administrators and district boards heavily criticized the state body and Huffman, the policy’s originator.

Under the new licensing rules, in-class evaluation and students’ standardized test scores will be used to grant new and renewals of professional teachers licenses.

If a teacher scores a 1 out of 5 on the evaluation or the rate of change of her students’ test score growth in two of the three years preceding consideration of her license, that teacher would be put under evaluation. If the scores did not improve, the teacher would lose their license to teach in the state.

The state board members recognized the concerns of the education professionals at their meeting — two of them voted against the new policy — but decided to approve the policy with the amendment that its implementation be postponed until 2015.

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