Indiana

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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.

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