Tennessee teacher survey: Perception of standardized testing low after TNReady issues
Tennessee saw a marked dip in the number of teachers that feel pulled around in many different directions in terms of what to teach and how to teach it in the 2018 school year.
And only about a third of teachers say information received from statewide standardized tests is worth the investment of time and effort.
The takeaways from the 2018 Tennessee Education Survey, in its eighth year, are part of numerous questions asked about the state of teaching in Tennessee. Nearly 40,000 Tennessee educators, representing 58 percent of the state’s teachers, took the survey.
“The survey results this year show us that more teachers have a clearer understanding of expectations, and they feel better supported and able to tailor instruction to meet their students’ needs," said Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen.
The survey was administered from March 6 to April 20. The share of teachers taking the questionnaire is an all-time high response rate, according to the Tennessee Department of Education.
The annual poll offers a mixed bag of items across numerous topics, including assessment, teacher evaluation and pre-kindergarten, early career and high school teacher perspectives.
It also shows about 87 percent said they are satisfied being teachers in their school.
TEACHERS FEEL LESS PULLED AROUND
Overall, Tennessee saw a 17 percent dip in teachers saying they feel pulled around in many different directions in terms of what to teach and how to teach it.
This year, 45 percent agreed or strongly agreed they felt pulled around. That is in contrast to 2017 when 58 percent felt the same.
"This is really key because it suggests teachers are adjusting to the state's standards and feel more confident and supported," McQueen said.
In the same vein, teacher response slipped in how much time they have to plan and how much they are allowed to focus with minimal interruptions.
Most teachers said they understand what the state expects of them to teach, but only 6 in 10 reported the materials available to them are well-suited for teaching to the state's standards.
The state has ramped up efforts in the last year through its Ready with Resources campaign to get more materials to teachers, McQueen said.
Standardized assessment perception is low
The survey also asked teachers this year whether the information received from statewide standardized exams is worth the investment of time and effort.
A total of 61 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed that it is.
The high number follows after a year in which the state once again saw numerous issues in its TNReady online testing due to issues with its vendor.
McQueen said perceptions about the state's teacher evaluation system have slowly improved over the years. Many teachers view the process positively.
She expects the same change in perception for TNReady.
"We need to continue to improve every year," McQueen said. "There are implementation changes that help with teacher ownership on the ground and teachers have to be part of that change."
Last year, because the state required districts to take paper tests, test results came back slowly. And in 2016, spring testing was canceled for elementary and middle school students. High school students were required to take the test on paper due to issues with the state's testing vendor.
Mentors and coaches are available, but not used frequently
Younger teachers report they are assigned mentors, but a large number get infrequent opportunities to work with them.
And in literacy, there are more professional development opportunities for teachers, but they infrequently work one-on-one with coaches.
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