02/01/12 On Friday, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels spoke directly to the topic of evaluations for Indiana teachers. The Governor made a stop in Plymouth to meet with area media and respond to questions on a variety of topics.
Education related questions included a concern that some teachers perceive that new evaluation standards are meant to penalize some teachers. In the 2012-20123 school year, Indiana teachers will be required to receive feedback on their job performance based on professional practice, as well as student growth.
Daniels said, “We are trying to identify the best teachers and do more for them-protect them and so forth.” He added, “No one thinks they have the perfect evaluation system.” Although the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has designed an evaluation rubric that can be used by administrators, Daniels made it clear that school corporations do not have to use the state model. He said every school district is free to use whatever system they want. However, he noted that they must “pacify” the state board to make sure the system they are using is not a scam.
Daniels said, “Student performance has to be a part of it; but nobody thinks that test scores are more than one important marker.” Daniels reiterated statements that he has made since the evaluation system was brought up several months ago. He said, “We had a non-system before and 99 percent of teachers were rated great.”
He stressed his belief that nothing can take the place of a great teacher in the classroom.
Daniels feels the voucher or “Choice Scholarship” program has been beneficial for families. The program allows families the opportunity to send their children to a school that they feel best fits their learning needs. The voucher is a state payment that can used to offset tuition at a private school. Not all schools choose to participate in the program and acceptance into any particular school is based on the criteria of the policies of each school.
The amount of the scholarship corresponds with what the public school corporation would receive in the district where the child resides.
Daniels said he recently visited Concordia High School in Fort Wayne where 20 children are enrolled using the vouchers and received very positive feedback from parents and students.
When asked if the requirement that a child attend public school for at least one year prior to applying for a voucher, Daniels said it had been met with a lot of opposition. He said, “There is some value in that debate to have one year included.” “Public schools get a shot at every child.” he said. He said, “It shouldn’t be only for the wealthy people to have an option.”
Carol Anders Correspondent