Republican Leaders Continue Their Fight To Protect Tennessee’s Early Childhood Educators

July 31, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — During the 2018 legislative session, members of the House Republican Caucus fought to protect Tennessee’s early childhood educators and hold them harmless in the wake of unexpected issues related to this year’s evaluation portfolios.

In March, Republican lawmakers unanimously supported passage of House Bill 1686 — sponsored by State Representative Eddie Smith (R-Knoxville). This measure guarantees that all termination or compensation decisions involving early childhood educators should not be based solely on data generated by the growth portfolio models for the 2017-2018 school year.

According to the Tennessee Department of Education’s website, portfolio growth models produce authentic student growth measures unique to an individual teacher’s students. Through the use of video, audio, and still pictures of student work, teachers can capture student growth in real time.

Any Local Education Agency (LEA) that receives voluntary funding must utilize the approved growth portfolio model in their evaluation of early childhood educators. However, many educators who have utilized this technology to capture a student’s personal growth have run into unforeseen issues this year submitting data.

In the wake of Tennessee House Democrats politicizing this important issue, Republican leadership condemned their actions and also renewed their pledge Tuesday to support our state’s early childhood educators.

“It is unfortunate that the Department of Education has experienced another round of issues related to testing and evaluations,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville). “However, House Republicans have taken the lead to safeguard our educators and our schools so that they are not unfairly penalized for circumstances beyond their control. I am grateful to Representative Smith for his efforts protecting our teachers and am proud to stand behind the men and women who shape the future leaders of our communities and our state.”

“Once again, the Democrats have turned an important issue like teacher evaluations into a political game,” said House Majority Leader Glen Casada (R-Thompson’s Station). “Instead of using our early childhood educators as political pawns, perhaps they should focus on finding real solutions to important issues like we did earlier this year with passage of House Bill 1686.

“Our early childhood educators play a critical role in the creation of our next generation of leaders, and they do not deserve to be unfairly penalized for circumstances beyond their control,” said Representative Smith. “That is why we passed House Bill 1686and why we are committed to taking additional steps— if necessary — to protect our early childhood educators. We must continue to attract and retain the best and brightest educators. This will guarantee that our state’s future remains bright.”

Smith — a leader of the House Education Administration & Planning Committee — is in Nashville today to meet with officials from the Department of Education and has offered to assist officials in their review of portfolios.