A new study from the state comptroller’s office reveals a pervasive connection between underperforming teachers and lower-than-optimal student test scores.

Tennessee’s Office of Research and Education Accountability released a report this week seeking to assess the negative impacts that underachieving teachers may have on student performance and academic success.

The report determined that students’ performance demonstrably suffers when they’re taught by a subpar-rated teacher for two consecutive years.

Graphic Source: Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s Office of Research and Education Accountability (March 2019)

A press release from the office of Comptroller Justin P. Wilson, who oversees OREA, indicated that the study’s results show that students who endure “ineffective teachers” for consecutive years “were less likely than their peers to be proficient or advanced on the state’s assessments.”

“Student achievement also suffered with the largest effects found for the highest and lowest performing students,” the press release stated. “These results are consistent with other research indicating that ineffective teachers have negative academic impacts on students.”

OREA’s research into the issue — which was conducted at the request of Tennessee Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville — showed that between 2013 and 2015 more than 8,000 students in Tennessee were taught in consecutive years by teachers with low evaluation scores in math or English or both.

Students in need of special education efforts or enrolled in “high poverty” school were much more likely to receive instruction from underperforming teachers, the report found.

The OREA report suggests that altering education policy in Tennessee to ensure an “increase equitable access to effective teachers for all students” is something for the Legislature to consider. The report also recommends that policymakers contemplate establishing provisions to ensure students are not assigned to classrooms run by ineffective teachers in consecutive years, and that the Tennessee Department of Education be required to track the problem and report back to lawmakers on it annually.

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