Gov. Bill Haslam OK with delaying teacher licensure rules implementation

Gov. Bill Haslam OK with delaying teacher licensure rules implementation

August 20th, 2013 by Associated Press in Local Regional News

Gov. Bill Haslam answers a question during a news conference in this file photo.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that he supports a vote by the Tennessee Board of Education to delay the implementation of new rules on licensing teachers until 2015, calling the decision "a very wise one."

Under the proposal approved last week, teacher licenses would be tied to student test data.

Many teachers oppose the changes because they're concerned that flawed scores could cause qualified teachers to mistakenly lose their licenses.

The board voted 6-3 to approve the changes but decided to delay their implementation in order to give the board time to hear concerns and make changes.

Haslam told reporters following an event Monday that was the right thing for the board to do.

"I think it's a sense of saying we like the direction, let's make certain ... all the implications we're prepared for," he said. "I thought their decision was a very wise one."

The Tennessee Education Association held a news conference a few days before the board's vote to say it opposed incorporating the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System data into license requirements.

Currently, professional teaching licenses are renewed for 10 years without regard to effectiveness.

Under the proposal, a renewal would depend on 50 percent of value-added data. Teacher evaluation and tenure status currently rely on 35 percent of student test data.

As for concerns about flaws in the data, the education department has said there will be a way to appeal if an issue arises.

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman joined Haslam at the event Monday and reiterated the appeals process to reporters.

"The last thing anybody would ever want to do is accidentally weed out a teacher who is effective," Huffman said.

During the event, Haslam and Huffman recognized 169 so-called Reward Schools, the top five percent of schools in the state for annual growth and academic achievement.

The schools span 52 districts across the state and include 70 schools that serve mostly economically disadvantaged populations.

"We believe that all students deserve strong schools where they can grow to high levels of achievement," Huffman said at the event held at Percy Priest Elementary, one of the schools recognized for academic achievement.

"At the beginning of each year, every school in this state should know that they have a shot at becoming a Reward School."