Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

What Happens When Teacher Evaluations Reveal Problems

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Teacher Wes Upton helps students with an assignment in his social studies class at Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center in Indianapolis.

By all accounts, Wes Upton, the focus of several StateImpact stories on evaluations, is a great teacher.

He’s a school leader at Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center. He heads up the learning community of college-bound students who want to attend Ben Davis University High School. He gets high marks on his evaluation for his contributions to the social studies department.

But what about Wayne Township teachers who aren’t at the top of their game?

“We will have a small percentage of teachers who fall into the ineffective and improvement necessary categories,” says chief personnel officer David Marcotte.

That means for those educators, the evaluation process looks different. Marcotte says Wayne administrators try to intervene to help struggling teachers improve their practice.

Steve Samuel, the assistant principal who completed Upton’s evaluation, says it’s important to let teachers know right away when there are concerns.

“This part of the process should not be the first time the teacher is aware we have some things we think they should be working on,” says Samuel.

Administrators at the Ninth Grade Center try to be in classrooms every month for a walk-through or an observation. Any problems are noted so Samuel can set up a conference with the teacher.

“We have a walk-through form that they would get,” he says. “We would note what we wanted to talk to them them, and we would have that discussion and offer resources.”

One solution: Samuel says he usually tries to connect the teacher to someone else in the department that can help rectify the problem. If concerns persist, there’s still time to discuss them during the post-evaluation conference:

‘Hey, you must have worked on this, I was concerned about it, and we talked about it back in September, but in November when I did your observation, I didn’t see a concern anymore — or I did — and here’s the next step.’

So based on our level of concern, there’s a variety of things we can use to help support that teacher, from those conversations about strategies all the way to formal plan to improve to be very specific about what needs to improve, what supports will be there, and what the timeline is for that improvement.

Teacher who receive “improvement necessary” or “ineffective” ratings aren’t eligible for advancement in Wayne Township’s salary schedule.

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