Tennessee Educator Survey Offers Actionable Feedback For Improving State, District Policies

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

According to the 2017 Tennessee Educator Survey report and data tool released Wednesday, the overwhelming majority of Tennessee educators believe the evaluation process improves their teaching and professional learning enhances their ability to meet student needs. However, teachers also reported relatively few opportunities for personalized professional learning and difficulties identifying and accessing high-quality instructional materials—two areas where the department has launched new efforts to better support teachers. 

This is the seventh year that the department, in partnership with Vanderbilt University, has surveyed all educators in the state to gain insight and include teachers’ voices in department strategy, policy decisions, and goal-setting. This year, more than 38,000 educators participated in the survey—more than half of all teachers and school administrators in the state and an overall increase of about 5,000 educators over last year—allowing these results to further reflect the experiences of more Tennessee educators. 

“The educator survey provides a unique opportunity to learn from our most valuable partners: our educators who are with our students in schools and classrooms every day,” Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said. “The Tennessee Educator Survey gives us feedback that helps us at the state level, as well as in districts and schools, to reflect on our practices and policies so we can continue to improve.” 

There were four key takeaways from the 2017 survey: 

The growth in the positive opinion about evaluation has improved steadily over the past several years. The 2012 educator survey was the first year teacher evaluation was implemented in Tennessee, and results that year indicated that only 38 percent of educators reported the process helped improve their teaching. In 2017, 74 percent of educators say evaluation has led to improvements in their teaching. Teachers who find evaluation most useful also receive more feedback, paired with adequate time, materials, and access to staff expertise.  

Additionally, while teachers report relatively few opportunities for personalized professional learning, three-quarters of teachers say generally the professional learning they do receive enhances their abilities to meet students’ needs. At the same time, about half of teachers report that they take part at least once a month in a professional learning activity that they do not perceive as helpful. The department is continuing to work with districts to ensure teachers consistently receive high-quality, tailored professional development so that our schools increasingly become places where educators are encouraged to grow and improve as professionals. This past year, the department launched a personalized professional learning pilot with several dozen teachers to allow them the chance to develop specific skills and earn micro-credentials, which it will continue to scale up this year.  

Tennessee teachers reported difficulties identifying and accessing high-quality instructional materials, with the average K-3 reading teacher spending 4.5 hours per week creating or sourcing materials. The department is working with teachers to create model literacy unit starters with associated text sets to help educators enhance instruction aligned to Tennessee standards.

Additionally, the department has created a new “how to” manual for teaching literacy and has been hosting a summer learning series, with the next webinar and release of English learner-specific materials this Thursday to help strengthen instruction in early grades reading for students. 
The 2017 survey results also show that most teachers feel their classroom time is protected, with minimal disruption to their instruction periods. However, survey results also point to specific threats to instructional time, such as the amount of time that some teachers—especially those early in their careers—devote to classroom management and disciplinary issues. 

These insights and more can be seen on the 2017 survey website. The online portal allows users to view aggregate statewide teacher and administrator responses, as well as district- and school-specific information, provided they meet or exceed a minimum participation threshold of 45 percent. To view the 2017 Tennessee Educator Survey results and read the report, Educator Insights: Takeaways from the 2017 Educator Survey, visit the department’s site here

For more information about the Tennessee Educator Survey, please contact Nate Schwartz, chief research and strategy officer, at Nate.Schwartz@tn.gov.



Vital To Address Graduates At CSCC’s Spring Commencement Ceremony

Cleveland State Community College will hold its annual spring Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 5 at 10 a.m. in the L. Quentin Lane Gymnasium. Greg A. Vital has been chosen as the keynote speaker for the ceremony. In January 2017, Cleveland State Community College announced the creation of Greg A. Vital Center for Natural Resources and Conservation, the college’s first ... (click for more)

CHS Teacher Named UT Math Teacher Of The Year

Cleveland High School mathematics teacher Valerie Capps received the University of Tennesee Math Teacher of the Year Award at the UT Department of Mathematics Honors Day 2018 Awards Ceremony in Knoxville on Thursday. This award is given to a local high school mathematics teacher who best exemplifies the knowledge of and enthusiasm for the discipline of mathematics inside the classroom ... (click for more)

TBI Puts Man Who Killed 4 At Waffle House On Its "10 Most Wanted" List

A man who killed four people and injured two others at a Waffle House near Nashville on Sunday morning is still on the loose and has been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list. He was identified as Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Ill., was arrested last year when he was in a restricted area at the White House in Washington, D.C. Reinking ... (click for more)

Dayton Teen Arrested After Running From Deputies On Highway 60; Passenger Caught With Drugs

Hamilton County Sheriff deputies caught up with a Dayton teen who drove off at a high rate of speed on Highway 60 on Sunday afternoon. A passenger in the vehicle was caught with drugs. At approximately  5 p.m. , deputies observed a white Chrysler 200 traveling south in the 7800 block of Highway 60 at a high rate of speed. The driver was improperly passing other vehicles ... (click for more)

Teachers Have Good Compensation Compared To Other Taxpayers - And Response

Hamilton County experienced a property tax increase of about 10.7 percent in 2017. By law the reappraisal of property shall not increase tax revenue. So after the reappraisal the state certified millage rate for Hamilton County was 2.4976 per hundred dollars assessed value. The county commission voted to raise the millage rate to 2.7652 per hundred. That's about a 10.7 percent increase ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Always Know The Facts

I adore the fact so many of America’s high school and college students are very active in our battle against violence in our schools but bemoan the fact that when you combine youth and ‘lack of experience’ they often are misguided and ill-informed. The best example came on Saturday when a reporter for Campus Reform walked around the Cal State-Santa Barbara campus asking the students ... (click for more)