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Teacher Effectiveness Ratings Call Evaluations Into Question

Ninth graders listen to Jodie Mojzik's math lesson at George Washington Community High School, a public school in Indianapolis.

Despite changes designed to make teacher evaluations tougher, almost all of the state‘s public school teachers were rated as effective last school year.

The percentage of teachers earning a rating of "highly effective" or "effective" rose to 89 percent from 87.6 percent the year before, according to data released by the Department of Education, which will be formally presented at Wednesday‘s State Board of Education meeting.

The number of teachers rated as "ineffective," a rating that could lead to them losing their jobs, was virtually unchanged, falling to 0.35 percent.

"I think it once again confirms that most of the educators in our classrooms around the state are doing a very good job," said Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

However, critics are likely to take issue with the results at the board meeting because the ratings are based on a relatively new evaluation system that many expected to be tougher than old standards.

2013-14 was the second year in which an evaluation system was used in which teachers receive several visits from principals or other evaluators. The system was put in place after critics of the old evaluation system complained that some teachers were evaluated based on one classroom visit by a principal and sometimes not evaluated each school year.

The fact that it has not lead to tougher evaluations could lead the Indiana State Board of Education to make student test scores a bigger factor in the evaluation system in the future.

Meredith doesn‘t know if the Board has the power to do that, and she says test scores should not play a bigger role in how teachers are rated.

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