By Crystal Burns
Kelly Knott had a trick up her sleeve Thursday.
The Bradford Elementary School principal found out that morning that her Pre-K, kindergarten and first grade had been named No. 1 in the state in the Student Growth Portfolio. Knott secretly ordered a cake and balloons and invited the BES and Bradford High School faculties for a surprise announcement.
Director of Schools Dan Black let the secret slip, but the Pre-K–first grade teachers were nonetheless pleased with their students’ results.
“We are so excited today,” Knott told the staff. “I’m so proud of your efforts and your hard work.”
According to the Tennessee Department of Education, developing comparable measures for teachers in non-tested grades and subjects continues to be a top priority. Tennessee currently uses portfolio growth models in fine arts, physical education for grades K-5 and 6-8, Pre-K, kindergarten, first grade, Career Technical Education work based learning and world languages. Benefits include providing teachers with the opportunity to reflect upon their teaching by looking at student work, assessing the impact that teachers have on student growth, producing authentic student growth measures that are unique to an individual teacher’s students and engaging in professional learning conversations with colleagues that is based on evidence of student performance.
Amy Dunn, one of two supervisors of instruction at the Bradford Special School District, said teachers select student work for the portfolio, but must choose a differentiated sample of students. Pre- and post-tests are given.
Peer reviewers score the evidence collections following a Consensus Scoring process. If there is a discrepancy between the teacher’s self score and the peer review score, an expert reviewer evaluates the submission. The expert reviewer’s score stands as the final score for the submission.
The peer review scores are used to calculate student growth scores for each evidence collection that are then leveled according to a Teacher Effectiveness rating scale. Both the growth scores for the evidence collections and the final Teacher Effectiveness rating are shared with teachers in an online Score Report once peer review has been completed.
“What the state now knows is what we knew all the time,” Dunn said.
Penny Thurman attended the party, representing Dr. Wanda Small, Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM) coach for the Northwest Tennessee District. Thurman said Bradford’s achievement is a “huge deal.”
“Your students are going to benefit from this, and your community will reap the rewards,” she said.
Thurman also praised Knott’s leadership, explaining that Knott took an active role in helping her teachers improve student growth by becoming a content expert.
Black, who gamely took the blame for spoiling Knott’s surprise party, also complimented her and her teachers’ efforts.
“The work you did was outstanding,” he said.