HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) – The Tennessee governor and education commissioner wants to temporarily halt “negative consequences” of student assessments on educators and schools this school year.
This as teachers and districts have found themselves trying to educate students while in the coronavirus pandemic.
“Given the unprecedented disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic and extended time away from the classroom has had on Tennessee’s students, my Administration will work with the General Assembly to bring forward a solution for this school year that alleviates any burdens associated with educator evaluations and school accountability metrics,” Governor Bill Lee said.
“Administering assessments to gauge student learning and ensuring strong accountability best enables us to meet the needs of all students, however we know the significant challenges our teachers and school and district leaders are facing and it remains critical to reward their good work. We look forward to working together with our elected officials on a solution for this school year that preserves our strong foundations while ensuring that every teacher feels supported in focusing on educating their students,” Commissioner Penny Schwinn said.
State Senator Bo Watson, (R-Hixson) said he hasn’t seen Governor Lee’s full request, but it’s something he feels that senators will look at favorably.
“I think that members are sensitive to the environment that teachers and students are operating in now. Some schools are meeting remotely, both remotely and in-person and some schools are in-person, and to hold the system accountable to a law that was written under completely different circumstances, I think the senate would view that as being unfair,” Sen. Watson said.
Hamilton County Education Association President Jeanette Omarkhail has previously given her take relating to student assessments and teacher evaluations.
News 12 spoke with her about it last week.
“Having a way to assess and know where our kids our to keep, drive our instruction is critical, but to evaluate the teachers, the schools to put a label on us based on that in this critical time is not appropriate. I think that, I don’t even think the testing, the tests should be done,” Omarkhail said.
The governor still wants students assessments to be administered.
“Accountability remains incredibly important for the education of Tennessee’s students, and we will keep this year’s assessments in place to ensure an accurate picture of where our students are and what supports are needed to regain learning loss and get them back on the path to success,” Gov. Lee said.
This wouldn’t be the first time lawmakers have held teachers and schools harmless.
A couple of years ago legislators decided to hold them harmless when there were issues administering TNReady tests.
Sen. Watson said that lawmakers could take up Governor Lee’s request when they meet in January.