State Board Of Education Reverses Course On Teacher Licensing

Jul 1, 2014

Acting on a directive from the Tennessee General Assembly, the state board of education voted Monday to break away from a controversial policy that tied student test scores to teacher licensing.

The board approved changes that would instead offer rewards to educators who consistently perform well on state-mandated job evaluations. Those who score three or above on the five-point evaluation scale across a number of years would receive professional development credits that would help them advance their careers and maintain their licenses.

Under the current policy, adopted last summer, poor student performance on standardized tests could be used as justification for revoking or declining to renew a teacher's license. Educators and Tennessee lawmakers criticized the plan, saying it was too punitive.

State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, who helped implement the current policy, offered a cautious opinion of the proposed changes.

"If you're performing in the classroom, that's great — you shouldn't have to do some of the paperwork that you otherwise would have to do," he told the Nashville Tennessean. "But just being pretty blunt about this: This isn't a statement of quality of anything in terms of renewing a license. It's just sort of where we wound up throughout the whole process."

Some elements of the current licensing policy were retained in the revamped version. The lifetime of a professional education license would drop from ten years to six, and the validity of a practitioner's license would remain at three years.

The policy changes faces a final vote in July. If approved, they would take effect in the fall of 2015.