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With the recent announcement that only two states – Tennessee and Delaware – will be awarded approximately $600 million of the President’s $4.3 billion “Race to the Top” funds, there are numerous questions how physical educators will be included in the new required teacher evaluation process for tenure, advancement, merit pay, and other reasons.

“Everything seems to be up in the air in relationship of how non-core educators (i.e., art, music, and physical education teachers) will be treated in an equitable manner,” states Artie Kamiya, a well-know physical education expert. “In all likelihood, unless state educational leaders decide on the process, it will be left up to each school district to decide.”

Here’s a link to an recent Tennessee newspaper article which may provide a peek into what may be happening in Tennessee:

It’s easy for Pam Hopkins to tell that her art students have made progress in class.

Comparing a middle schooler’s self-portrait from the beginning of the year to one completed at the end of the class, Ms. Hopkins shows how the harsh, jagged lines of the first effort have softened into smooth, realistic contours of the face by the second.

The subjective assessment comes easily for Ms. Hopkins, who sees the students in class every day, but the Loftis Middle School art teacher worries about state education officials starting to measure teachers’ effectiveness based on student progress.

“They’ll be looking for a measure of growth, but right now, no one knows how they’re going to judge the arts,” she said. “I think I can adapt, but I want to make sure it’s a fair assessment.”

After a special session of the Tennessee General Assembly in January, lawmakers decided that 50 percent of the decision to grant tenure to Tennessee’s public school teachers will be based on students’ test score data.

The new method of evaluation is a natural fit for math, language arts and science teachers, whose students take state standardized tests every year anyway. But for those who teach subjects such as art, physical education and music, the connection isn’t so clear.

Gov. Phil Bredesen called the special session in January because he said certain changes to K-12 education were necessary for Tennessee to compete for federal Race to the Top funds. If Tennessee wins between $400 million and $500 million from Race to the Top, a portion of the money could go toward creating new assessments for teachers whose subjects are not already covered by state tests.

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