Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Indianapolis Charter School Teacher Tells Congress Educators Need Evaluations

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.

An Indianapolis charter school teacher was among those that testified before the Congressional Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Thursday, writes the Indianapolis Star‘s Scott Elliott for Get On The Bus:

There’s probably no coincidence there. The subcommittee’s new chairman is Todd Rokita, Republican U.S. Congressman who represents part of the Indianapolis area, who touted Indiana’s record of education reform when he was named to the post on Jan. 2.

Emmanuel Harper, a French teacher at Indy’s well-regarded Herron High School, described for the subcommittee how evaluation works at his school. Here’s a taste of his testimony:

With unannounced visits, we are continually assessed on our effectiveness. This maintains a constant loop of evaluation, critical feedback, and actionable next steps. In the evaluative process, non-tested subjects (such as French) undergo the same amount of scrutiny as tested subjects with curriculum and assessments analyzed for their fidelity to AP exams. Thus, with end-of-the-year performance conversations, teachers who continually meet our high instructional bar are rewarded with leadership opportunities and salary increases. Teachers who do not are removed from the classroom.

Schools across Indiana must comply with state-mandated teacher effectiveness legislation that took effect in August. The law requires evaluations be tied to merit pay, though some districts signed extended contracts with their teachers to put off that provision for a few more years.

State lawmakers passed Indiana’s teacher effectiveness law in 2011, which has given districts some time to prepare. Three school corporations piloted the state’s evaluation system last year. Many districts are using the rubric the Indiana Department of Education developed, often with a few tweaks.

Last week we wrote about the teacher evaluation process in Indianapolis’ Wayne Township. You can take a look at a completed evaluation or see how the district’s merit pay scale stacks up.



  • A View Through My Eyes

    I think there is a misrepresentation occurring in the public arena on the issue of teacher evaluations. Everywhere I look, I am reading arguments and headlines stating that teachers need evaluations. That is a strawman argument and it has the public following like a stray puppy.

    Teachers have always been evaluated.

    The real debates, which I know State Impact is fully aware, are on the issues of pay and removal from the classroom.

    In my 7 years of high school teaching, I have been evaluated every year. I have had random visits to my classroom every year. I have received verbal and written feedback every year (multiple times each year).

    However, I do not want my pay based on these evaluations because teaching is not static. Depending on which period and which subject I am observed, then there will be completely different perspectives. One year I may have the top 20 students in the grade and the next I may have the bottom 20. I don’t want my pay tied to such fluctuations. Worse than that though, I don’t want my pay tied to an evaluator who is eager to make a name for themselves.

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