IU policy brief examines views of teacher evaluation in Indiana

  • Dec. 2, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- There’s a disconnect in how teachers, principals and superintendents view educator evaluation systems that are being implemented in Indiana, according to a policy brief issued by the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning at Indiana University.

Superintendents view the systems more favorably and have greater confidence in them than do principals and teachers, according to the brief. Principals view the evaluations more favorably than do teachers; and principals are more confident of their ability to conduct effective evaluations and their technical knowledge of the systems than the teachers they are evaluating.

The brief reports findings from a survey of Indiana educators regarding their beliefs about teacher evaluations and their confidence in the evaluation processes. Results may provide useful insights into the challenges and opportunities presented in the transformation of teacher evaluation required by Senate Enrolled Act 001, adopted by the legislature in 2011.

Questions related to participants’ beliefs addressed the measurement of student growth and achievement, the new teacher evaluation legislation and how changes in the teacher evaluation process have affected teaching and learning. Principals' and teachers’ confidence levels were determined with questions addressing principals’ confidence in themselves as evaluators, teachers' confidence in their evaluators, and the confidence of both in the evaluation process.

Authors of the policy brief are Hardy Murphy, research scholar at Indiana University and former school superintendent in Evanston, Ill.; Sandi Cole, director of the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning at Indiana University; Gary Pike, professor of higher education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Jim Ansaldo and James Robinson, both research associates at the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning.

The authors engaged leading educator organizations in the state including the Indiana School Boards Association, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, Indiana Association of School Principals, Indiana State Teachers Association, AFT Indiana, IUPUI, Indiana Department of Education, Center for Education and Career Innovation and charter school officials.

“The primary goal for this brief was to offer a fairly comprehensive view of educator feelings about the significant changes in teacher appraisal in the state of Indiana and the perceived impact upon teaching and learning in districts across the state,” Murphy said. “How superintendents, principals and teachers feel about the transformation of teacher evaluation can provide insights into the development of policy and guidance in the implementation of the legislation requiring changes in the evaluation of teachers.”

Cole added that work being done through the Indiana Teacher Appraisal and Support System, developed by the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning, helped inform the brief. “The recommendations the brief offers should be of particular interest for state policymakers, especially the concerns related to the fidelity of implementation,” she said.

The brief notes that while teachers have concerns with aspects of the new evaluation processes, the data suggest there is an opportunity to secure teacher support for meaningful change in evaluations. To that end, the authors provide recommendations for changes in policy and guidance. These include:

  • Provide additional resources for professional growth opportunities linked to evaluation data.
  • Fund ongoing research on plan development, implementation and effectiveness across the state.
  • Create differentiated rating systems for district teacher evaluation plans that recognize plan quality.
  • Support the development of common assessments to determine student growth.
  • Review the methodology, use and weights for student growth in the evaluation system.
  • Anchor the weight and measure of student growth in teacher evaluation in research.
  • Review and revise how evaluations are linked to compensation.

The brief also contains insight from the Indiana Teacher Appraisal System and Support Advisory Board and the system’s consortium of participating schools.

About the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning and the Indiana Institute

The Center on Education and Lifelong Learning is a division of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana's University Center for Excellence, which works to increase community capacity through academic instruction, research, dissemination and training, and technical assistance.

About the Office of the Vice Provost for Research

The Indiana Institute receives support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University Bloomington, which is dedicated to supporting ongoing faculty research and creative activity, developing new multidisciplinary initiatives and maximizing the potential of faculty to accomplish path-breaking work.

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Joel Fosha

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