In Nashville, Music Educators and Supervisors Assess the Complicated Issue of Teacher Evaluations

  •  New Resource from NAfME: Workbook for Building and Evaluating Effective Music Education in the School Ensemble (available now at the NAfME Store) and Workbook for Building and Evaluating Effective Music Education in General Music (coming soon).
In Nashville, small groups discussed  teacher evaluation workbooks.
In Nashville, small groups discussed the teacher evaluation workbooks.

 On October 26–27, 2013, music teachers, fine arts supervisors and college professors gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, to discuss a pressing topic: how teachers can assess the work of students and how teachers themselves can be evaluated fairly.

Music teachers, school district fine arts supervisors, and college professors made up the list of attendees. The PreConference was held conjunction with the 2013 NAfME National In-Service Conference in Nashville.  

Glenn Nierman, president-elect of the National Association for Music Education, said of the Association’s focus on teacher evaluations, “It’s really about helping teacher to do a better job of helping teachers to learn.”

The NAfME preconference looked the issue from a variety of angles:

  • The U.S. Department of Education’s  Race to the Top  Hard to Measurement program
  • Research Issues and Trends in teacher evaluations
  • Using technology to evaluate students
  • A look at a Tennessee state law ties 35 percent of a teacher’s score to student achievement
  • Common Core Standards and music literacy
  • Reimagined standard, student assessment and teacher evaluations
  • Music teacher evaluation from a state perspective


Theresa Brown
Theresa Brown


Teresa Brown, director of fine and performing arts for the Newburgh Enlarged City School District in New Windsor, New York was one of the arts administrators who found the sessions to be of value.

“As a fine arts director, I currently supervise 55 teachers – visual arts, music, dance, and theater.  In the last three years, my position has been cut and thankfully restored each year.  Unfortunately, we have lost art, music, and drama teachers each year,” Brown said after the conference.

“State requirements imposed without direct input from a cross section of people currently in the trenches, and unfunded mandates for instructional time, etc. are taking their toll on educating children. As director, I see advocacy and building the capacity of teachers, parents, students and colleagues to advocate is a new emphasis for me,” she said. 

“In addition to the teacher evaluation, my responsibilities include, supply ordering, clerical work (the secretary position for our department was cut two years ago); curriculum development, assessment development; professional participation on committees such as district improvement committee, APPR committee, etc. fine arts directors are being called upon to make the connections between school, community and home.  I found the formal and informal discussions around advocacy to be very helpful during my time in Nashville,” Brown said.

 NAfME also has been addressing the teacher evaluation from a policy standpoint, lobbying lawmakers on teacher evaluation issues and also encouraging grassroots efforts to address the issue. 

James Edwardfs
James Edwards





Another preconference attendee, James Edwards, director instrumental and vocal music at Stuart–Hobson Elementary School in Washington, D.C., said, “I believe the PreConference session was a critical part of the week for me.  As a music educator who has also served as a principal, I have a unique perspective on the need to educate our Administrators on what to look for when they visit our classrooms. Given that the vast majority of our administrators come from other areas of study, they are often unfamiliar with what happens in our classrooms and uncomfortable in performing observations and evaluations.”

Edwards added, “Being aware of what is happening across the country is an advantage in providing input and guiding the evaluation process in our own schools.  Having a grasp of the new tools developed by NAfME will make it far easier to guide Administrators through a formative evaluation process in a form they should be much more comfortable with.”

NAfME, with the help of an Assessments Task Force headed up by Nierman, has created two Workbooks:  the Workbook for Building and Evaluating Effective Music Education in the School Ensemble, and the Workbook for Building and Evaluating Effective Music Education in General Music. The Workbooks are available from the NAfME store at $34.50 for members, a 25% discount off the $46 nonmember price. (Call 800-336-3768 to order over the phone.)

The Ensemble Workbook is available now and the General Music Workbook is coming soon.

On the second day of the Preconference, attendees used the Workbooks for guided group exercises.


Photos by Roz Fehr


Roz Fehr, NAfME Managing Editor for News, November 8, 2013. © National Association for Music Education