New Standards Put Teachers To The Test

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Memphis) Some teachers are getting the boot after not making the grade.

It happened to 58 Memphis school teachers last year for everything from incompetence  to inefficiency.

Now, new teaching  standards could put more on the hot seat.

Allyson Chick is one of the best teachers.

The Richland Elementary third grade teacher is the Tennessee Teacher of the Year.

She is the first Memphis teacher in 29 years to win the award, "I have the determination and drive, compassion for what I do."

She's a teacher with a passion for the job and performance record  to prove it.

At a time when teacher accountability is in overdrive, teachers are measured against a new set of standards.

It's booting some teachers out of the classroom.

In the 2009 school year, Memphis City Schools terminated 23 teachers for incompetence or inefficiency.

The following year, the district fired 50 teachers.

Last school year, it grew to 58.

Under the new Teacher Effectiveness Measure or TEM, teachers are now evaluated in the class room every year instead of once every five years.

There are annual observations on Student Growth and Achievement, Content Knowledge and Student Surveys.

"The key impetus behind this is to improve instruction, not dismiss teachers," Memphis Education Association President Keith Williams told us in a recent interview.

When TEM results came back some teachers didn't measure up and  faced  dismissal.

Teachers are scored 1 thru 5.

A teacher can get fired for repeatedly scoring a one or two but the district isn't required to fire him or her.

Instead, the system is set up to help teachers improve.

Memphis City Schools says there are individual growth plans, professional learning and peer coaching.

An organization called Teach Plus is also making sure teachers have a voice when it comes to how they are evaluated.

"We feel like we are able to make sure that teachers have those necessary skills to be at the decision-making table, so that  the profession is rebuilt with their ideas and their suggestions in mind," says Tamala Boyd with Teach Plus.

Tennessee mandates 35% of a teacher's evaluation  be based on student growth,  15% on student achievement. That's half the evaluation.

Right now another 40% is based on classroom observations and 5% each to  student surveys and content knowledge.

The community is being pulled in to help.

Shepherding the Next Generation, is a group of 100 churches, who hold teacher recognition Sundays and  volunteer in the classroom.

"As the church, we are adding our voice to the dialogue. We are also supporting our teachers in our congregation," says Pastor Brandon Walker of Shepherding the Next Generation.

"If we are not raising the level of standards academically, then corporations that would seek to come to our city would look else where," says Bishop Edward Stephens of Golden Gate Cathedral.

"We want our students to go to school and we want to provide funding for our students to go to college, but I think it begins further back. It begins with our teachers, We have got to support our teachers is order to make our leaders for tomorrow," says Allyson Chick.

Next year Memphis and Shelby County School will combine.

How the merged system will evaluate teachers is still in  the works.

One thing's for sure, teachers will have a voice at the table.