In previous years, educators under the third grade level were evaluated through observation, not off their children’s state test scores. That is about to change.
The state of Tennessee will be requiring portfolios on each child in pre-kindergarten and first grade starting next year.
These portfolios will contain the child’s work from both the beginning and the end of the year. This is intended to show the state each child’s growth and progress in the classroom.
Before this implementation, teachers who instructed younger grade levels were evaluated based on the testing scores of third grade and above. While pre-k teacher Heather LeMay agrees that it is fair for teachers to earn their own scores, she still has a reservation about the upcoming implementation.
“All you have to do is show a picture of [the children’s work] and then show a picture of it improved,” LeMay said. “To me, that’s very easy to manipulate and do yourself. You’re not looking into what my kids can do.”
The portfolios will be sent to Nashville, Tennessee, at the end of the 2017-2018 academic year. These are to be graded by educators who teach pre-k through second grade throughout the state.
A phase-in of this program is scheduled to rollout in the next three years. Next year the program will pilot with pre-k and kindergarten. In the fall of 2018, the program will be implemented in the first grade, and the following year portfolios will be required in the second.
Portfolios are considered an alternative to state testing. Teachers can submit handwriting, basic match worksheets or something else that measures a student’s achievement.
Pre-k through second grade is not required to take state testing, but the Johnson City School System gives a benchmark exam to these students each year to monitor their progress.
“Progress monitoring is really hard,” said LeMay. “Because I don’t do a lot of worksheets, it’s not evidence-based, it’s more observational.”
Click the photo below to see the changes in education policy in Tennessee: