Changes in Teacher Licensure in Tennessee

Teaching licenses in Tennessee will be tied to student test score data beginning in 2015.

Those who have careers in teaching in Tennessee will soon see major changes to licensure. The Tennessee Board of Education has voted to approve controversial new rules that will link teaching licenses to educators' effectiveness in the classroom. This will tie teachers' ability to keep their licenses to student test score data. Teachers whose students consistently fail to improve could lose their licenses.

The changes are slated for implementation in August 2015. Currently, teaching licenses in Tennessee are renewed every 10 years and do not take the effectiveness of teachers into account. According to The Associated Press, 35 percent of teacher evaluation and tenure status in the state is based on student test data. With the new rules, 50 percent of renewal evaluations will depend on value-added data.

"This is not about taking away teacher licenses, but about making sure our students have the best classroom teachers," Kevin Huffman, Tennessee's education commissioner, told The Wall Street Journal.

However, the Tennessee Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, opposes linking of student test scores to teaching licenses. The new plan will rely on data from the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS), which is designed to measure the effect that a teacher has on students' academic growth from one year to the next.

While most board members said they are pleased with the stricter licensure requirements, others opposed the policy because it contained elements they did not support and was not the final version that they hoped for. The board may make additional changes before the new policy goes into effect in 2015.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a non-profit, accredited, online university. WGU's Teachers College offers multiple online degree programs for current teachers or those looking to become teachers. To find out more, please visit www.wgu.edu/wisecareers_teachers

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