A bill on teacher evaluations took Tennessee state lawmakers well into the night before they adjourned Wednesday.
“Little bit of an unusual day, but we are glad to be at this point,” said Gov. Bill Haslam.
After 14-hours of work Wednesday for state lawmakers, it was an hour before midnight when they finally adjourned for the year and the Governor and legislative leaders could hold their traditional year-end news conference.
TNReady student testing issues this past week and teachers being held responsible for the results were the elephants in the room.
“There’s a lot of legitimate concern coming from members all across the state, and we hear that and understand that, but no one wants it to be right more than we do,” said Gov. Haslam. “But I want to say this. One of the reasons we are trying to do that is that we don’t want to go back to the days when we don’t have some objective test for how we are learning,”
Earlier in the day, a defiant house threatened to hold up the state budget because both minority democrats and the majority republicans felt that K-12 teachers had not been protected enough from TNReady testing issues that have popped up over the last week and a half.
Many impromptu hallway conversations between Lt. Governor Randy McNally and House Republican Caucus Chair Ryan Williams eventually laid the groundwork for an amended bill, assuring that the TNReady test results would not be used for classroom evaluations unless teachers wanted them to be.
“In order to do that, it meant working and finding a solution where we can still protect data, which is really important as it was relates to federal funding and our progress we have made over the last 8-years. Not impugn our teachers too,” said Rep. Williams.
Keeping the results from this year’s testing satisfies federal requirements for much needed education funds from Washington.
The state senate felt a bill last week protected teachers from the TNReady results this year, but the house felt it did not go far enough.
As for next year, lawmakers expect to work on many of the same issues as this year: opioids, school security, and TNReady.