Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Ritz: Teachers Who ‘Need Improvement’ Should Still Be Eligible For Raises

State superintendent Glenda Ritz listens to comments from the public during a hearing at Glenwood Leadership Academy in Evansville.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

State superintendent Glenda Ritz says teachers who are marked 'needs improvement' on their evaluations should be eligible for raises. Otherwise, she says inexperienced teachers could leave the profession before they improve.

State Board members say Indiana’s teacher evaluation law needs an overhaul after the vast majority of educators received “effective” or “highly effective” ratings.

“Clearly the system failed,” says board member Gordon Hendry. “We have to find a new way to get accurate, fair results for our teachers so we can continue to improve our schools and our students’ experiences in the classroom.”

The Indiana Department of Education release data this week showing 97 percent of educators who received ratings were placed in the top two categories. Less than one half of one percent of teachers were scored as ineffective.

“I don’t feel we’re going to be able to capture that in a true form,” state superintendent Glenda Ritz says. “Many teachers that leave the profession — either retirement or resignation — before they get that final rating.”

But Ritz agreed with State Board member Cari Whicker, who says she thinks the problem is a link to teacher pay. Whicker says principals are reluctant to tell teachers they “need improvement,” as it means they won’t be eligible for a raise that year.

“We have to give everyone a good score so everyone gets a cost of living adjustment,” says Whicker.

Whicker says teachers, especially young teachers who are inexperienced but getting better, may not be willing to stay if their salaries remain stagnant.

Ritz says the solution is allowing “needs improvement” teachers to receive raises.

“That should not be a barrier to actually putting a teacher on a needs improvement rating because you invest in your teachers when you hire them,” she says. “And many times, you want to provide professional development to ensure they get better in their craft and improve.”

Ritz says she doesn’t think teachers in the lowest “ineffective” category belong in Indiana schools.

And while she says teachers should be evaluated on student performance, how much test score data to include should remain a local decision.


  • Teacher S

    I teach in Indiana and haven’t had a raise in 5 years. If a school district does not have the money, there’s no raise anyway even if you get an effective or highly effective score. So, since there’s no longer a cost-of-living wage increase, I honestly question myself constantly if I shouldn’t find a new career. Will I be at the same pay rate in 10 years, in 20 years? I have a family to care for.

    • Jon Bordeaux

      Furthermore, recent changes in laws affecting teacher compensation in this state have done away with the yearly step increase (which was not the same as a raise), so many of us younger teachers are not seeing our lower salary rising either. I am fortunate to teach in a district that granted us a small raise this year; nevertheless, I am still earning $5,000 a year less than I would have under the old system. I have yet to meet a teacher that expected wealth by choosing this profession. Still, being able to care for a family and save for retirement and my children’s college education would be nice.

      And to add insult to injury, as a teacher in Indiana I get to constantly hear how terrible I must be at my job because…well, why IS it so hard to believe that the vast majority of Indiana teachers are effective, Gordon Hendry? Is it because you think so? Ah. Good enough. Thanks for demonstrating critical thinking for the good folks of Indiana. Enjoy your appointed position and elevated soap box regarding the topic of education; you’ve certainly earned it.

  • Wendy Brown

    I do not believe that principals are giving teachers better evaluations than they deserve. I do BELIEVE that Most of Indian’s teachers are effective and highly effective. I am a teacher. I do not have a problem being evaluated. I do have a problem with the general public believing that all of those effective and highly effective teachers will be getting a raise. That is simply not true. What the state fails to tell you is that they have cut so much of the funding that most teachers will just get a hearty slap on the back because schools don’t have money for raises. I think it is horrible that the state is spending millions and millions of dollars rewriting the state standards and the state assessment which will almost mirror the federal common core standards and the PARCC assessment which they had already committed themselves to use several years ago. That money could have been better spent on the students and the schools. Indiana is going to lose many new talented young teachers who can’t make a living as a teacher. They are also going to lose many great effective and highly effective experienced teachers who will retire as soon as they are edible. I never thought I would retire at the age of 55. I love teaching and working with children. I just cannot continue to teach in a state that has absolutely no appreciation for such a hard working and dedicated group of people. I think the general public needs to worry less about how many effective and highly effective teachers there are and spend more time worrying about how many teachers there will be at all in the next few years.

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