The Hechinger Report has partnered with The Commercial Appeal in Memphis to investigate how new legislation requiring more rigorous evaluation of teachers is changing education in the state.


Teachers’ teachers face test as scrutiny of education rises

By Sarah Carr

When Candice McQueen learned last fall that a controversial statistical analysis had declared her teacher-training program relatively weak in the area of social studies, she wasn’t surprised. Earlier feedback, including postgraduation surveys, had suggested that the college of education at Nashville’s Lipscomb University needed to bolster its social studies training, said McQueen, the college’s dean. […]

Millington Middle School principal Dr. Michael Lowe talks to one of his students in the hallway between classes. Lowe and both of his vice-principals evaluate each teacher and then combine the score. (Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal)

Memphis’ new teacher evaluation system adopted from controversial D.C. program

By Sarah Garland

Washington, D.C. launched a controversial new teacher evaluation system two years ago that overhauled how teachers are rated and led to the firings of 7 percent of the teaching force—more than 280 people. The new evaluations roiled the city; 80 percent of D.C. teachers believe it was not an “effective way to evaluate the performance” […]

Millington Middle School teacher Kay Obenchain walks through her 7th grade enriched math class to check on students as they review for testing. Obenchain has been teaching full-time at the school for 8 years. (Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal)

Using value-added data to evaluate Tennessee teachers

By Sarah Garland

To close the achievement gap between poor and affluent students in Tennessee, some students may need to learn at double the rate of their high-performing peers, according to Tennessee Department of Education materials. But this goal could create a potential Catch-22 for teachers, who for the first time this year will be measured—and rated—on whether […]

Lester School 8th grade teacher Rebecca Sellers watches on as students in her language arts class work on an assignment. Sellers has spent 17 years as an educator, including the last two at Lester. (Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal)

New teacher evaluation systems in Tennessee have rough road ahead

By Sarah Garland

Rebecca Sellers, an eighth-grade English teacher at the Lester Pre-K-8 school in Memphis, looked wary as she walked into the teachers’ lounge on a Monday afternoon last fall. The previous week, the school’s assistant principal, Isaac Robinson, had dropped in, unannounced, to watch Sellers teach as part of Tennessee’s new evaluation system.Now he was about […]