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Tennessee Board of Education looks to address teacher crisis by dropping performance test

Hill Street Studios via Getty Images.
Hill Street Studios via Getty Images.
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It’s no secret that teachers are in high demand, and the Tennessee Board of Education is looking at ways to bring and keep teachers in our classrooms, including the possibility of taking away a specialized test.

But at what cost?

Currently, all teachers in Tennessee must pass the education teacher performance assessment, whether they have a degree in another field or they’re in the process of student teaching.

But some are looking to drop the requirement for this assessment.

"It’s one of the places that we think that we can make some sensible changes to better streamline the pathway for these candidates," says Sara Morrison with the Tennessee Board of Education.

Morrison is talking about one piece of the puzzle to keep teachers in our schools.

Job-embedded candidates are those teachers working with a mentor in the classroom and account for 800 to 900 of the roughly 3,000 newly certified teachers each year.

JC Bowman with the Professional Educators of Tennessee says preparation for the EDTPA exam takes away from the time these future teachers could be spending in the classroom.

"While you’re in the process of doing your student teaching, you have to do a series of videos on your lesson plans, you’re doing a video of yourself teaching. And then you have to do a written analysis of your instructional practices which is something like 60 pages," says Bowman.

Bowman believes that this assessment creates barriers that prevent people from getting into teaching.

But, others say it’s a way to make sure teachers are ready.

“I didn’t see anyone from the state board present data as to why one year ago, the state board staff was saying we need to have the highest EDTPA scores in the country. That’s just one year ago. Now, we don’t need it at all," says Bill Estes, the Dean of College Education at Lee University.

Estes says not every district across the state is currently dealing with teacher shortages.

And eliminating it is not necessarily a way to improve the quality of our teachers.

"This might not be the best policy blanket policy for all state to solve it," says Estes.

Although the board may be trying to bring more teachers in our schools, some recent graduates say they wouldn’t feel prepared without all the current prep work.

“I think it was a natural barrier for me not to be a teacher and a sense of it takes a certain level of expertise," says Catie Waters, UT graduate.
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The final reading will happen in February, and if passed, it could be implemented as early as next fall.

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