Tennessee leaders to make adjustments to teacher accountability amid COVID-19 pandemic

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) Tennessee leaders are working on adjustments to teacher accountability, because of COVID-19.

Governor bill lee says that due to the COVID-19 disruption, time away from the classroom has prompted his administration to work with lawmakers to not penalize teachers if students don’t perform well on state assessments.

Tennessee leaders working to provide a clearer view on how to progress education in the state, under COVID-19.

The first approach is by making adjustments to teacher accountability.

“It’s been a very unusual school year,” Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said.

Governor Bill Lee and education commissioner Dr. Penny Schwinn are calling for the removal of negative consequences for schools as a result of standardized test results for this school year.

“With Governor Lee, I stand with members of the Tennessee general assembly on a solution that makes appropriate adjustments on accountability this year, for school accountability, district accountability and teacher accountability, to make sure that we can clear the runway and for teachers to fully focus on teaching our students,” Dr. Penny Schwinn said.

This means state assessments will still be held, but regardless of test results, teachers will not be penalized on their evaluations.

“We’re asking, in many cases, our teachers to come back in and teach in unorthodox ways both virtual and in-person formats. It’s difficult for our kids. It’s particularly difficult on teachers, dedicated professionals who are tasked with making a miracle happen for students who might be catching up from last year,” Governor Lee said.

“I think there’s probably going to be some flexibility in the assessment as well: how it’s given, when it’s given. It doesn’t mean that our teachers or students are going to be less serious about teaching and learning and being able to measure what’s been taught, what’s been learned and being able to use that to go forward and the help plan and prepare as we always do,” Dr. Barnett said.

Johnson City Schools superintendent, Dr. Steve Barnett said this is something the system has advocated for amid the pandemic.

“That will have to go to the legislature for that to occur. The legislature doesn’t reconvene until, I think January,” Dr. Barnett said. “This really gets out ahead of what the legislature is going to do in the spring.”

Due to the unusual nature of the school year, Dr. Barnett said the Johnson City School system did not do its first checkpoint assessment at the end of the first nine weeks.

“We did not do our first checkpoint assessment at the end of the first nine weeks because of the unusual nature of this school year, so we’ll have checkpoint assessment data, school wide, system wide in December. That will go along with the end of course exams that will be going on at the state level at the high school,” Dr. Barnett said.

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