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Teacher Evaluations Up for Consideration

February 11, 2011

02/14/11 Evaluations for teachers throughout the public schools in Indiana could mean the end of raises for teachers deemed ineffective.

State Senator Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn, District 14) authored Senate Bill 0001  which includes establishing annual staff performance evaluations that categorize teachers as highly effective, effective, improvement needed, or ineffective.

After the bill was introduced, two other senators joined with Kruse in promoting the adoption. Jim Banks (R-District 17, Columbia City) was added on January 24 as a

co-author and Carlin Yoder (R-District 12, Elkhart) was noted as a second author on the same date.

The bill specifies that a teacher rated ineffective or improvement necessary by the school corporation’s administration may not receive raise or increment for the following year.

This February 3, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett said, “Today Indiana’s teachers and school leaders got a sneak peak at drafts of model teacher and principal evaluation rubrics the state plans to offer local school corporations next year. The release is in anticipation of legislation pending in the Indiana General Assembly that would require local school corporations to develop and put to use annual evaluations based on multiple measures, including some type of student performance or growth data.”

Bennett, said, “Schools have been given detailed descriptions of observable behaviors and indicators that inform best practices.”

Bennett indicated that the control would stay with local boards. He said, “While we plan to set guidelines for the evaluations and offer models which local school corporations can choose to adopt, our role is primarily one of support. We want local leaders to have the flexibility and authority to serve as centers of innovation and develop the best evaluations based upon the needs of students in their schools.”

Locally, the Plymouth School Corporation has been piloting a revised evaluation document since the beginning of the current school year.

Veteran teachers were given the opportunity of staying under the system  in place or using the pilot document and being evaluated using the new guidelines. New hires were automatically put into the new evaluation process.

 The document was formulated after several months of discussions by Donna Burroughs, principal of Riverside Intermediate School, and a committee made up of teachers and administrators. Burroughs said she first began the task of upgrading the evaluation that had been used for 13-14 years when she was taking classes to obtain her superintendent certification. She said, “I chose this as a project after using the old forms that I felt included wording that was  kind of vague.” “We knew the State Department of Education was moving towards stronger evaluations; however, in Plymouth, we have always tried to stay ahead of the game.” she said.

Burroughs has been as principal for 17 of the 35 years that she has been in education.

She said the idea of the evaluation process is to improve teacher performances. She added, “We have great teachers in Plymouth. What we want to do is make our great teachers greater.” Burroughs said, “This is new. At the end of the year, we will probably have to “tweak” the format somewhat.”

According to Burroughs, the new guidelines have more specific criteria and more objective. She indicated that some of the changes are in response to advances in technology, using differentiated teaching methods, and following common assessments.

Although seemingly unrelated, the Bill also includes language concerning  the elimination of the advisory board of the division of professional standards of the department of education.

It also contains the stipulation the 50 percent of the teachers in a charter school are not required to be licensed as teachers, or be in the process of obtaining a license.

As found in the data submitted to the DOE, 100 percent of teachers in the Plymouth system are marked as “highly qualified”; meaning all have the top certification to teach in their content/ grade/subject area.”

If passed in the present form, the bill would also require the Department of Education to revoke the license of a licensed school employee if the employee is convicted in another state or under federal statues of offences that is comparable in Indiana.