published Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Bradley County Schools tackles teacher licensing concerns

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Bradley County Board of Education has voiced strong opposition to any state initiatives to base teacher licensing on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, an analytical tool used to measure student achievement and hold educators accountable for student progress.

In a meeting Thursday, the board was given a standing ovation by more than two dozen faculty members and administrators after voting 7-0 to send a message to the Tennessee General Assembly and the Tennessee Board of Education.

"This is not a good thing for our teachers in the state of Tennessee and it's not good for our children, either," said board member Charlie Rose, who championed the issue and presented the resolution.

The resolution opposes the issuance, renewal or denial of teacher licenses based on results from value-added assessments. It states that "a professional license is a qualification-based threshold for a professional and is not a measure of effectiveness of said professional."

Among other concerns, the resolution states that Tennessee has changed its curricular standards multiple times in a short period of time and that TVAAS scores "can vary with little clarification and there is no validated improvement plan for teachers from the Tennessee Department of Education."

It also hits on the ongoing debate over the state's adoption of Common Core standards, citing a lack of research indicating those standards are age-appropriate at all grade levels.

The Bradley school board's message will have an impact on the Tennessee School Boards Association, and it may play a role in forming a policy statement from the group to state officials, board member Chris Turner said.

In other business, the board agreed to move forward on a proposal by member Christy Critchfield to allocate $287,000 of pending insurance money to renovations of Lake Forest Middle School's auditorium and gymnasium.

The money is part of a payout associated with Blue Springs Elementary School, which was devastated by April 2011 storms. It must be used for codes-related construction and cannot be used for maintenance or repair items, said Rick Smith, business manager for Bradley County Schools.

The school's insurer, Travelers, also has set a deadline of April 2015 for the money's allocation, Smith said. Otherwise, it will be lost.

The board voted 7-0 to begin clarifying conversations among school officials, insurance representatives and architectural consulting firm Kaatz, Binkley, Jones and Morris about the proposed use of the funds for Lake Forest.

However, board members Troy Weathers and Nicholas Lillios opposed the rest of the board in a decision to allow the executive committee to initiate any actual agreements based on those conversations.

Weathers said the whole board ought to be involved.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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