Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett praised the state’s new teacher evaluation models and reiterated his desire to expand the state’s school accountability system to districts during his State of Education address Tuesday.
All Indiana school districts are using new teacher evaluations this year. They are given a general framework by the state, then can design the evaluations themselves. Bennett says the feedback generated by the evaluations will help identify the best teacher preparation programs.
“This new level of transparency will push our institutions of higher education to build teacher preparation programs that are more challenging and more student focused,” he says.
But in a recorded rebuttal, Bennett’s Democratic opponent, Glenda Ritz, says Bennett’s proposal for teacher licensing promotes a private education assessment company over university training.
“Under the new proposal, teachers will no longer be required to have a degree in education to teach but instead be given licenses if they can simply pass a test by the Pearson Company,” she says, adding that as superintendent, she would ensure teachers have rigorous pre-service training and ongoing professional development.
During his address, Bennett also touted the accomplishments of his administration, including the A-to-F school grading system employed by the state. He says the discussion must now shift to the qualities and practices that make districts effective.
“These are important conversations that we must start having now so that, just as we did with teacher evaluations, we can build a strong, student-focused accountability system for districts that’s informed by input from many stakeholders,” he says.
Ritz is not a supporter off the grading system. In fact, she says if elected, she would get rid of the A to F grading system entirely.
“The current A-F grading system is based on the pass-fail test and does not give an accurate picture of our schools,” she says. “The A to F grades have devastating impact on communities when it comes to attracting and retaining business.”
But Bennett says accountability works, pointing out that the number of chronically failing schools has dropped from 24 in 2009 to just one in 2012, as measured by metrics his administration developed.