Executive Summary

Sylvia Flowers

Please tell us a little about yourself.

( Editor's Note: Sylvia Flowers is now an assistant commissioner with the Tennesee Department of Education)

Please describe SCORE’s main education reform aspirations for the upcoming yearI direct SCORE’s technical assistance work with state government and local school systems. Before joining SCORE, I was a project manager of Chicago’s Teacher Advancement Program. Through the Broad Residency in Urban Education, I held senior roles in the Christina School District, Wilmington, Del. Earlier, I worked for Duke Energy Corp. and Monsanto Co. I graduated from the University of Missouri and earned an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

SCORE has outlined four priorities for 2012 through our strategic planning process and annual planning process. The first two 2012 priorities are related to specific pillars of our 2009 Roadmap to Success, which outlined a range recommendations for Tennessee to improve public education—to support effective implementation of the new teacher effectiveness system, and to support implementation of the Common Core standards and aligned assessments. The third and fourth 2012 priorities are cross-cutting priorities related to SCORE’s and Tennessee’s broader goals—to help educators at the district, school, and classroom levels understand how the pieces of the Roadmap fit together, and to track how Tennessee is improving on key student outcomes relative to other states and identify ways to accelerate progress.

What were you past efforts in the teacher evaluation reform?

SCORE played a role as a thought partner in the teacher evaluation reform design and implementation processes. We were specifically involved in the TEAC planning committee to provide support and research to the Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee, provided research to the Department of Education, and assisted the Department of Education in planning the field test of the TAP observation rubric in spring 2011.  In addition, SCORE supported efforts to reform teacher tenure to make it a more meaningful process and pushed for a link between human capital decisions and the teacher evaluation system.

Launching a new system can be overwhelming for educators who are faced with multiple priorities each year. If there was a way to communicate what this change would "look like/feel like" at the school and district level, perhaps we could have anticipated and planned to support schools in different ways.
 
- Sylvia Flowers

Worked well around the teacher evaluation reform?

●      In Tennessee, we have both a core value that teacher evaluation reform should be done and have people coming together around the issue. We have strived to have all stakeholders involved in the decision-making process.

●      The Tennessee Department of Education has been responsive to educator concerns during this first semester of implementing the new evaluation system.

●      The AIMS consortium, Memphis City Schools, and Hamilton County School District are using alternative observation rubrics approved the State Board of Education.   The alternative rubrics will further help us identify the pertinent practices that are highly correlated with student achievement.

What did not work well?

●      We could have had more buy-in on the adopted state model, known as TEAM. The state model’s field test was conducted in approximately 50 schools and was ultimately rolled out to over 1,000 schools. For those schools and districts who did not participate in the field test, this school year has been a huge learning curve.

●      Sometimes there is a disconnect between the policy and the implementation of the policy.  While there was much communication about the new policy, most educators felt the impact of the new teacher evaluation system in summer 2011 when the extensive training and certification process began. Launching a new system can be overwhelming for educators who are faced with multiple priorities each year.  If there was a way to communicate what this change would “look like/feel like” at the school and district level, perhaps we could have anticipated and planned to support schools in different ways.

Most important thing that you would tell your counterpart in other states?

1.       It is important to try to keep all stakeholders around the table during the planning and design phase as well as during the implementation phase. 

2.       Establish formal and informal communication and feedback loops during all phases of implementation.  While it is important to push information out, it is equally important to receive information back in from educators and administrators and internalize the information to refine and improve the system.  

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