Tennessee Awards 2010 Teacher of the Year
Sevier County elementary school teacher Dr. Cheryl Deaton was named Tennessee Teacher of the Year during the Annual Teacher of the Year banquet.
Grand division winners, Mr. Davis Falvey of West Tennessee and Dr. Dianne Sawyer of Middle Tennessee, were also recognized.
Oct. 11, 2010
Bredesen Names Bruce Opie to Lead Department of Education
Governor Phil Bredesen has named Bruce Opie commissioner of the Department of Education. Opie replaces former commissioner Tim Webb who announced his resignation in early October.
"Bruce has spent 34 years in the field of public education, including nine years as a classroom teacher," said Gov. Bredesen. "His experience, dedication, and the leadership he has shown in various roles with the Tennessee Department of Education will provide the continuity that's so critical now with our First to the Top focus on improving student performance."
Oct. 6, 2010
Patrick Smith Named to Lead Tennessee First to the Top Oversight Team
Governor Phil Bredesen has announced the appointmen of Patrick Smith as interim executive director of the Tennessee First to the Top Oversight Team.
Smith will lead implementation of Tennessee's First to the Top plan to invest a $501 million Race to the Top grant in public education reform initiatives that will improve student achievement over the next four years.
"Patrick is well-known and respected by education stakeholders across the state," said Bredesen. "I'm extremely pleased he has agreed to head up our First to the Top implementation team, providing guidance and stability through the period of transition in the months ahead to ensure we maintain momentum and focus as we work to improve the quality of education we provide our children." More.
"Teachers are at the heart of motivating our student's academic achievement and success," Education Commissioner Bruce Opie said. "This award represents the commitment to their students and classrooms. I want to congratulate Dr. Deaton, Mr. Falvey and Dr. Sawyer on rising to the challenge of the teaching profession."
First to the Top Advisory Council
Tennessee's First to the Top Advisory Council was established by Governor Phil Bredesen to provide high-level oversight and ensure the state is effectively implementing, evaluating and learning from Race to the Top.
The Council will meet for the third time on Wed., Nov. 10, 2010 at 1 p.m. CST at the Tennessee State Capitol.
Learn more about the First to the Top Advisory Council.
THEC Hosts First to the Top Meetings for Higher Ed
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission recently completed a series of six meetings for representatives of higher education to learn more about Tennessee's First to the Top program. The meetings were attended by hundreds of presidents, deans and other representatives of both public and private colleges, universities, community colleges, and technology centers across the state.
"The meetings were received very well, and it's clear higher ed is really excited about Tennessee's Race to the Top plan," said THEC's Katrina Miller. "Partici-pants wanted to let us know our post-secondary schools stand ready to get involved and want to help make a difference and see Tennessee's First to the Top plan succeed."
Post-secondary school leaders were encouraged to reach out to the local school systems in their area. "We believe they can be real assets in terms of thought leadership, offering ideas, bringing best practices and research resources to local schools," said Miller. "Developing stronger partnerships between K-12 and higher education will benefit students as they move through Tennessee's education pipeline, and that's really what First to the Top is all about."
Developing New Growth Measures
The Tennessee Department of Education and the Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee have begun work to develop new growth measures for educators in untested subjects and grades.
As part of the state's First to the Top work, the department is working with educators to identify growth measures in untested subjects and grades to comply with the state's new evaluation requirements. In early October, the department reached out to national and state experts for assistance in identifying instruments for determining student growth in subjects and grades without TVAAS data (Tennessee Value Added Assessment System).
Educators were convened to represent the following untested grades, subjects and areas: Pre-Kindergarten to 3rd-grade, high school core non-tested, foreign language, special education, music, performing arts, health and physical education, library and media, and school counselors.
New Educator Guide on Growth Measures Now Online
AN EDUCATOR'S PERSPECTIVE
Growth Management Workshop
By Joel Denton, Ooltewah High School
On Tuesday, October 12, I had the opportunity to attend a session on Growth Management conducted by the Tennessee Department of Education. The guest speaker was Dr. Laura Goe from the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality.
The session began with representatives from the Governor's office and the Department of Education sharing thoughts on Tennessee's plan for the "First to the Top" funds. These conversations were very enlightening as to what our state hopes to accomplish and the way they hope to proceed in reaching the goals for "First to the Top."
Dr. Goe's session was very informative as she presented many ideas on what and how to accomplish teacher assessment for teachers of non-tested subjects. While her ideas and concepts could and should be considered for future teacher assessment, she and the state officials agreed that using school test scores would be the quickest and easiest way to establish statewide teacher assessment.
While this is in no way the model that most teachers would choose, it appears to be the only readily available option for meeting the immediate goals of "First to the Top." Personally, I was encouraged by the state officials' assurances that teacher assessment is a work in progress and that every effort will be made to produce an assessment that is a true measure of each individual teacher's work.
The meeting ended with an invitation and promise that this was only the beginning. We were told that there would be future opportunities for this typeof dialogue and work to continue. We were asked to commit to our continued involvement in these efforts. I shared that the organizations representing these non-tested disciplines should also be invited to participate in future discussions. While no formal recommendations were made and no plans were enacted, the day did provide insight into what the lans are for improving education in Tennessee.
The session ended with the group working in small like-discipline groups. In my opinion, this was an extremely productive effort as teachers of the same disciplines discussed how and what should be assessed in their classrooms. The group I participated in shared contact information and has continued to share ideas and information concerning teacher assessment.
Mr. Denton, Ooltewah High School Director of Band and Chair of the Fine Arts Department, participated in the first workshop around alternative growth measures for educators without TVAAS data. He serves the Hamilton County Department of Education.
Click here for more information on the new teacher and principal evaluation.
SCOPES OF WORK
Districts Begin Amendment Process
In May, Tennessee's 136 individual school districts each submitted a "Scope of Work," or individual budget plan spanning the four years of the Race to the Top grant that outlines in detail reform efforts for all schools. These plans are now available online.
Each school district will begin an amendment process to better align those plans with Tennessee's academic goals and each individual district's academic needs as new academic data is available.
Tennessee's academic performance goals include increasing 3rd-grade proficiency in English/Language Arts, 7th-grade proficiency in Math, increasing high school graduation and postsecondary access and success.
Each school district may set its own individual indicators for reaching academic performance goals that could include:
- Grades in core courses per six or nine weeks
- Percent of students with attendance rates less than 85 percent
- Percent of students with suspensions of more than five days
- Interim/benchmark assessment results
- Enrollment in AP and dual enrollment courses
- Number of students applying to college
- Kindergarten readiness results
STEM ADVISORY COUNCIL UPDATEPlanning for Success
The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Advisory Council members convened for their second meeting on Friday, October 22, at Nashville's BioMimetic Therapeutic Incorporated. Newly appointed Education Commissioner Bruce Opie welcomed the council members and reiterated the goals and mission of the council.
The council has begun the strategic planning process for building and broadening the STEM Innovation Network across the state. Department of Education representatives presented information regarding the lagging achievement amongst Tennessee students in science in math, which largely serves as the steering motivation for the council. Council members were given the opportunity to identify key areas of need that the STEM plan should address. The large focus of discussion centered on causes behind lagging achievement, ways to get students engaged in math and science education, and systems the council should consider implementing in regional STEM hubs, or areas of STEM resources focused in specific regions of the state, to help decrease the achievement gap.
This session set the groundwork and pace for meetings to follow. Collectively representing each division of the state, members were asked to brainstorm key business partnerships, mentors in science and math subject areas, or other resources in their local communities that should be involved in the discussion process and development of regional STEM hubs going forward.
Governor Bredesen established the Tennessee STEM Advisory Council to advise the Department of Education and Battelle Memorial Institute on the operation of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. The Network is charged with promoting and expanding the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in K-12 public schools across Tennessee.
ASK FIRST TO THE TOP
Topics Suggested by Readers
Is there a web page that lists, for each school district, their plans/programs about how they will use the First to the Top funding?
Yes. Each of Tennessee's 136 school districts was required to submit a Scope of Work, or individual budget plan for how they would utilize their portion of Race to the Top funds. Those plans are essentially a budget document aligned to the specific academic needs of each school district and the overarching academic goals of the state. Those individual plans are posted online under "Scopes of Work."
Every school district will begin an amendment process November 1 to better align its budgetary priorities and academic goals.
The Tennessee Department of Education is pleased to offer professional learning opportunities to Tennessee K-12 public school educators as part of First to the Top. A series of workshops that began in October and continue through November is helping build district, school and teacher leaders' capacity to use value-added analysis and formative instructional practices to improve student progress.
Facilitated by Battelle for Kids, a not-for-profit organization, these workshops are offered at no registration cost. Visit the Tennessee Student Progress Portal at www.BattelleforKids.org/Tennessee for more information and to register.
Workshop participants will share their learning with colleagues and, with the support of online learning, will work to embed the use of value-added analysis and formative instruction for improvement into daily practice within their district and/or school. All Tennessee K-12 public school employees receive access to value-added and formative instruction online courses at no cost as part of First to the Top. Developed by Battelle for Kids, these online courses will build educators' capacity to use value-added analysis, other sources of data, formative instructional practices and other effective strategies to improve teaching and learning.
As part of their training, Tennessee's Regional Value-Added Specialists and District Value-Added Leadership Teams will be completing Focus on My System/District and Focus on My Building guides.
These guides will help teams use their TVAAS®, achievement and other data sources to establish improvement priorities, including addressing challenges and leveraging strengths. Additionally, all Tennessee K-12 public schools have access to Tennessee·Focus, an online data-based, goal-setting process designed to enable teacher teams to analyze their achievement and value-added information to inform professional learning and
instructional decision making through a similar process.
These online courses, guides and additional resources are accessible on the Tennessee Student Progress Portal. If logging in to the portal for the first time, central office employees should receive their district access code from their director, and school employees should obtain their building access code from their principal.
"A View to the Top" discussion maps are now available on loan from Field Service Centers. This interactive stakeholder engagement tool builds understanding of Tennessee's First to the Top plan and how it will drive college- and career-readiness for all students. Districts should contact their local Field Service Center director to access the maps. More information is available through the Tennessee Student Progress Portal.
|First to the Top is Tennessee's initiative to improve education through the federal Race to the Top program.
For more information, contact:
Amanda Anderson, Director of Communications
Tennessee Department of Education