TVAAS at Work in Tennessee Schools

Yesterday, a report by the National Council of Teacher Quality reinforced what we have heard from other researchers: Tennessee’s teachers are improving more (and more rapidly) each year as a result of our teacher evaluation model and support. Teachers agree, with 72% of Tennessee’s teachers saying that our evaluation system is improving their teaching, up from 37% just a few years ago.

Several factors make Tennessee’s system stand out nationally. For example, we include multiple measures in our evaluation plan. We also have a strong focus on student growth through our use of TVAAS, or value-added growth measures.

Recently, we reached out to two educators to share their experiences using TVAAS to guide their decision-making for schools, teachers, and students. Here’s what they had to say.

Vicki Shipley, 2019 Tennessee Principal of the Year

Shared accountability for student learning and success is a clear expectation at our school, and data such as TVAAS is a big part of that. We present and discuss TVAAS data at faculty meetings, professional learning community meetings (PLCs), and individual teacher meetings, and plans of action are put into place that both target our challenges and celebrate our growth.

We also believe in holding our students accountable for their learning. So, when TVAAS results are released, they are given to our teachers, who in turn give the students their predictions to achieve success. Anyone who enters our building can ask any student their prediction in a certain subject, and they will be able to share that prediction and the plan they’ve created to achieve it. This cycle of setting goals and then creating plans to achieve them is critical for our students’ success, and using TVAAS data in this cycle means that we are using a common and visible measure of success metrics that every student can understand and share.

At the end of the day, we believe that TVAAS is a “protector” of all of our students, including those who achieve high scores and for our learners who consistently struggle. The beauty of TVAAS is that teachers don’t have to have all students on the same level; students can grow individually, and the teacher is recognized for all movement or improvement from where the student started.

Our teachers enjoy helping students set and attain their individual goals, and we all celebrate when our teachers and students succeed.

Kimberly Herring, Honors Algebra II teacher at Cumberland County High School in Crossville, TN 

As teachers, we often let our decision-making regarding students be led by our hearts. We love our students and want all of them to succeed at the highest level, but sometimes we need to pair this with an objective data point to balance the difficult decisions we have to make and ensure students are set up for success.

I teach Honors Algebra II in a rural district where approximately 55 – 60 students will enroll in the course. I use TVAAS data as one data point among several ahead of time to help with those placement decisions and determine which students prepared for the expectations and which ones may need extra attention and support.

This year was especially difficult because my daughter was one of the students who I was considering for the course. Now, more than ever, I needed very objective data to help in making decisions so my heart would not be the determining factor. My question as a parent and a teacher revolved around the appropriateness of the challenge for my daughter and what support she might need. With years of prior data, we determined that Honors Algebra II would be her best placement. After nine weeks of school, we both know it was the correct decision. I can happily report that her consistent “B” average rose to an “A” after the completion of her nine weeks exam. Through strong, standard-driven instruction and usage of prior data, I can personalize support quickly for students. And, as a result, I have been fortunate over the years to have students who show both growth and achievement.

Yesterday, Commissioner McQueen shared a blog post with her key takeaways from the NTCQ report. You can read her reflection, which includes links to recent research around the impact of Tennessee’s evaluation system, here.