Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Five Things To Know About Indiana's Teacher Evaluation Law

    Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

    In flipped classrooms, students watch online videos of lectures at home so they can work on classwork in school. Teacher Troy Cockrum requires his students to take notes on the videos, which he checks daily.

    Trying to decode the language in Indiana’s teacher evaluation law? The Lafayette Journal and Courier offered a primer in their weekend coverage of new educator effectiveness guidelines.

    We’ve written about what evaluations looked like last year in three districts that were part of a state pilot program. But now that school’s back in session, every corporation in the state will be measuring teacher effectiveness. Here are five things you need to know about the new law.

        1. Not every corporation will evaluate teachers the same way. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett told StateImpact Indiana’s law is unique because it doesn’t specify what system schools must adopt. The Indiana Department of Education has developed a rubric districts can use, called RISE, but schools are free to pick another model. All schools have to submit their plan for evaluating teachers to the state, but Assistant Superintendent Dale Chu says the IDOE won’t be reviewing the plans, just collecting them. Before, representatives of the Indiana State Teachers Association had expressed concern schools that didn’t adopt the state’s RISE model would be under greater scrutiny than schools that did.
        2. A key feature of the new law requires districts to link teacher performance to pay. Merit pay is probably the most controversial provision of the legislation, at least for teachers. A part of their effectiveness score has to come from student performance data, like scores on the ISTEP+ assessment. Some districts signed multiple-year contracts just before the new law took effect on July 1, 2011. That means they won’t have to implement the merit pay provision of the law until the contract expires.
        3. The new law represents a significant time commitment on the part of principals and other administrators conducting the evaluations. The Lafayette Journal and Courier‘s Mikel Livingston reports the Lafayette School Corporation has hired four new assistant principals at a cost of nearly $400,000 in salary and benefits to implement the state’s RISE evaluation system. The district estimates administrators will need to spend 17 hours per teacher to meet the new requirements. Superintendents involved with a pilot program during the 2011-12 school year told StateImpact districts just beginning the process of teacher evaluations need to spend a significant amount of time providing training to administrators and communicating expectations to teachers.
        4. Schools haven’t had a lot of time to prepare for the new changes. Bloomfield Superintendent Dan Sichting says teachers and administrators in his district had to scramble to implement the state’s RISE model during the pilot year. He told StateImpact teachers only had about a month to prepare student learning objectives — goals they must set as part of their evaluation — which wasn’t ideal. ISTA’s Teresa Meredith says teachers who had questions about the new law that weren’t answered on the state’s website have had trouble getting answers from the IDOE. To get an idea of how quickly districts have had to move, check out the timeline the Lafayette Journal and Courier posted this weekend.
        5. Indiana is part of a broader national trend to create better teacher evaluation systems. Here’s what a lot of teacher evaluations looked like before: A principal would come into a classroom and observe the teacher for 10-15 minutes. The administrator would rate the educator as satisfactory or unsatisfactory, then wouldn’t come back for a year or two. National Council on Teacher Quality Vice President Sandi Jacobs told StateImpact schools across the country need to make evaluations more beneficial to teachers. Jacobs says in a good system, administrators and educators work together to improve classroom teaching. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia now have teacher evaluation laws on the books.

    Got a question about Indiana’s teacher effectiveness law? Let us know below, and we’ll try to find an answer.



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