Tennessee Fine Arts Growth Measures System Update

NAfME Members,

As a member of the Program Leaders Council, I would like to share some information regarding teacher evaluation in the state of Tennessee. As one of the first states to receive Race to the Top funds, Tennessee voted to include measures of student growth as 35% of the total teacher evaluation process. Of the options made available in the US Dept of Education primer for non-tested grades and subjects (measures of collective performance, developing new measurements, or student learning objectives), our state initially opted to use measures of collective performance (assigning average growth scores from the standardized tests in other subjects) until other measures could be identified. Early in this process, they convened a committee of arts educators to develop an alternative. Our team created a system that allows teachers to collect authentic standards-based student growth evidence using purposeful sampling. This evidence is then submitted for content specific peer review. We believe the people that are qualified for making judgments regarding growth targets in the arts are other arts teachers! Below you will find our most current informational update to teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders.

Patrick Dru Davison, Ph.D.
Performing Arts Coordinator
Memphis City Schools
Curriculum and Instruction
2485 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN 38112
Office: 901.416.3432
Fax: 901.416.3436


Greetings colleagues,

It has been a while since our last update message regarding the development of the Tennessee Fine Arts Growth Measures System. Over the course of the last year we have made great strides towards providing Tennessee arts teachers, and the districts that they serve, an option for content-specific growth measures to be included in teacher evaluation.

As you are aware, teachers of non-tested grades and subjects across the state are currently assigned a school-wide measure of performance, which does not reflect their individual contribution to student learning. This measure counts for 35% of their total evaluation.  However, I am pleased to share that, based on the pilot program conducted last year, the TN State Board of Education approved the recommendation of the Fine Arts Growth Measures Committee to allow for an alternate measure of student growth in the arts.

Since our last message, several key developments in this system have occurred. Last January, we met with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and discussed the alternative growth measures system. Following this meeting, Secretary Duncan referenced this work in a number of speeches and articles. The TN Fine Arts Growth Measures System has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Ed Week, Teaching Music Magazine, and by the Associated Press! Several other states have elected to develop similar models based on the peer review method of measuring student growth. We thank the many expert fine arts teachers across the state that have been working very hard to develop a system that provides teachers with a valid accountability measure that truly reflects their work, without defaulting to standardized tests. Their time and dedication to the profession makes this work possible!

To learn more about the progress to date, please see the timeline below. View more information about the TDOE Fine Arts Growth Measures System Teacher’s Guide and the Tennessee Arts Academy. Tennessee districts interesting in adopting the Fine Arts Growth Measures System should contact Courtney Seiler (Courtney.Seiler@tn.gov) at the Tennessee Department of Education.

To date:

October 2010- January 2011 The TN First to the Top Fine Arts Growth Measures Committee developed and submitted recommendations to the TN State Department of Education.
June 2011 Eight lead arts teachers met to develop a pilot proposal and exemplar growth measures rubric based on the TN Growth Measures Committee Recommendations. Funding was secured.
September 2011 A group of seven teachers participated in a “beta” version of the pilot to make recommendations based on logistical and philosophical considerations.
October 2011-May 2012 Revisions made and all MCS Arts Teachers piloted the system. Ongoing collaboration with consultants, and teacher training workshops held throughout the year.  Meetings with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and TN Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman.  Peer review teams were trained and scored evidence collections. Ultimately, the full report was delivered to the TDOE for review.
July 2012 In anticipation of approval from the TDOE and TN State Board of Education, the Tennessee Arts Academy hosted a weeklong training for district leaders interested in implementing.
August 2012 After the beginning of the school year, the TN State Board of Education approves the Fine Arts Growth Measure as an option for districts seeking individual growth scores for teachers instead of school wide scores.
September 2012 TDOE sent notification to the 33 districts that were trained at the Tennessee Arts Academy regarding options for implementation.The TDOE gauged interest from all districts on who would be interested in piloting for 2013-2014 implementation and received many requests. Meeting at the US Department of Education regarding alternative growth measures for non-tested grades and subjects.
December 2012 The TN Arts Growth Measures Committee approves peer review applications.
Spring 2013(Upcoming)
  • Peer reviewer training.
  • Portfolio collection and scoring for participating districts.
  • Trainings held for districts interested in implementing for 2013-14.
  • Informational webinars developed for on-demand viewing.
Summer 2013(Upcoming) Training options available for districts implementing for 2013-14, including the TN Arts Academy.
Ongoing Support for other states interested in developing student growth measures portfolios.