Education Week - December 3, 2014 - (Page 16)

GOVERnMEnT & POlITIcS Achievement, Dissension Marked Tennessee Chief's Tenure By Andrew Ujifusa Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman's decision to leave his position as Gov. Bill Haslam begins his second term in office comes at a time of transition for the state, which has been hailed by some as a role model on K-12 policy and performance, even amid dissension over standards, testing, and other issues. Mr. Huffman, who was appointed by Gov. Haslam, a Republican, in April 2011, achieved national prominence for his policy positions and his work in the state. He oversaw the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, a new teacher-evaluation system, and the state-run Achievement School District, which began the co-management of low-performing schools in the state in the 2011-12 school year. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other K-12 advocacy groups pointed to Tennessee's 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, which rose faster than in any other state, as proof of the success of the state's policies, boosted by $500 million from the federal Race to the Top grant program. Fierce Opposition But Mr. Huffman ran into fierce opposition from several groups. Earlier this year, for example, Republican lawmakers blocked the state from using the assessment from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a common-core-aligned test the state had intended to use to evaluate students and teachers. One result is that Tennessee will use its prior assessment system for the 2014-15 school year, even though it also will be using the common standards. The common core itself continues to provoke controversy. In October, Gov. Haslam announced that the state would be conducting a review of the standards and accepting input about possible changes from teachers. But separately, a few days after Mr. Huffman announced his departure, Tennessee lawmakers said they had filed legislation for the 2015 session that would require the state to develop new standards. "We've had massive changes in our education system," Mr. Huffman said in an interview. "Any time you have that volume of change and that speed of change, you are going to get pushback. So I don't think that it's really surprising that we got pushback." Mr. Huffman's replacement, who will be selected by Gov. Haslam, has not yet been announced. The governor said that he wanted Mr. Huffman to stay at his post for his second term. In a statement, the governor announced that Mr. Huffman would switch to a job in the private sector. His specific departure date has not been announced. His will be the latest in a recent spate of turnover among state education chiefs. Since the start of 2014, 14 states either have selected new chiefs through elections and appointments, or are slated to do so due to impending departures. Mr. Huffman is a member of Chiefs for Change, a group of seven state education chiefs that supports policies such as school choice, closing low-performing schools that consistently fail to improve, and school accountability that includes measuring student performance. It is affiliated with the Tallahassee, Fla.-based Foundation for Excellence in Education, which is led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Two other members of the group, Superintendents Tom Luna of Idaho and Janet Barresi of Oklahoma, are slated to leave their posts after this year. In addition to overseeing the early stages PAGE 19 > Kevin Huffman, the departing Tennessee education commissioner, oversaw implementation of common standards and a new teacherevaluation system in that state. He also presided over a rapid rise in student test scores. But Mr. Huffman was slammed by some in the state for his management style, and he had to navigate opposition over tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards, among other hot-button issues. New Guidance Offers States Roadmap to NCLB Waiver Renewal By Alyson Klein States seeking to keep their waivers of key No Child Left Behind Act provisions will largely be able to stay the course on teacher evaluation, school turnarounds, standards, and other policy areas that have faced implementation hurdles, under recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Education. But the department didn't attach many new strings to the waiverrenewal process, back tracking on a pledge to require states to provide any data showing their new systems are actually improving student achievement. The set of waiver renewals covered by the latest guidance is likely the Obama administration's last best chance to put its stamp on the nclb law before leaving office in January 2017. So the decision to retreat from a proclamation made over a year ago-to require states to show they are making progress in student achievement in order to keep their waivers-is significant. Meanwhile, a small group of states-including Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia-where the teacher-evaluation systems are considered "on track" by the department will have the option of applying " It's more beefing up requirements here and there. ... On the policy side, they are not necessarily doing anything new or ambitious." ANNE HYSLOP Bellwether Education Partners for a four-year waiver extension by Jan. 30. Those states will go through an expedited renewal process and could have their flexibility in hand by early spring; they would get to keep their waivers through the 2018-19 school year. Other renewal applicants- the vast majority of states- will have until March 31 to apply 16 | EDUCATION WEEK | December 3, 2014 | and it's possible a new education secretary will by then have decided to suspend the waivers altogether. New Requirements States will have a few more requirements to gain renewals. For instance, they will have to show that they have plans in place to intervene sorts of "rigorous interventions" they are using for low-performing schools and schools with big achievement gaps. Plus, states will have to make sure that schools with such achievement gaps can't get the highest rating possible on the state accountability system. That seems to be a direct response to a report last month from for waivers that will last through the 2017-18 school year. The fast-track states may appreciate the quick approval, but it's not clear how valuable that extra year will be. By 2018, the country will be well into another presidential administration, in schools that are missing achievement targets for students in special education, English-language learners, racial minorities, and disadvantaged children-also known as "subgroup" students. And they will have to detail the the Education Trust, a Washingtonbased advocacy organization for low-income students, which noted that schools in Florida, Kentucky, and Minnesota were able to earn top ratings on accountability systems, despite the poor performance of subgroup students. And congressional Democrats and civil rights groups have long been concerned about whether the Obama administration is requiring waiver states to do enough to hold their districts accountable for the performance of subgroup students. "I think it was a hugely important step in the right direction," Kati Haycock, the president of the Education Trust, said of the change. "We're frankly hoping many states will plan to go beyond that." But Michael J. Petrilli, the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank in Washington, raised concerns that the requirement could penalize schools that are improving the achievement of all their students-which leaves in PAGE 19 > Erik Schelzig/AP-File

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - December 3, 2014

Education Week - December 3, 2014
Rules Aim to Heighten Ed. School Monitoring
Parents Get Schooled On New Math Standards
Principals’ Central Role Gets New Attention at Ed. Dept.
Districts Press Publishers On Digital-Content Access
Consortium Sets High Bars For Its Common-Core Tests
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
New Teacher-Licensing Exams In N.Y. Lead to Subpar Results
Obama Grants Deportation Relief To Immigrant Parents
Kindergartners Found to Benefit From ‘Tools of the Mind’
Blogs of the Week
Word Problems Should Be Given At the Start of Lesson, Studies Say
Tech. Vendors Cloudy On K-12 Buying Needs
New Guidance Offers States Roadmap to NCLB Waiver Renewal
Achievement, Dissension Marked Tennessee Chief’s Tenure
States Get Federal Running Room On Teacher-Equity Plans
Blogs of the Week
JOHN CESCHINI: STEM + Art: A Fruitful Combination
KIP ZEGERS: A Teacher, Students, and Poetry in Motion
JEAN HENDRICKSON: Why Not Art for Children’s Sake?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JEFF DEKAL: A Brief Portrait of a Young Artist

Education Week - December 3, 2014