Indiana University report examines faculty perceptions of Indiana teacher-evaluation changes

  • Dec. 1, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- University faculty members who train future school leaders in Indiana have changed what and how they teach in response to revisions in state teacher-evaluation law that were adopted four years ago, according to an Indiana University issue brief released today.

But communication about the curriculum changes has been inconsistent, and faculty remain concerned that school principals won't have the time needed to effectively perform the more detailed teacher evaluations required by the law, the report says.

The issue brief, "University Faculty Perceptions of Teacher Evaluation Law in Indiana," was produced by the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy in the School of Education at IU Bloomington. Authors are CEEP research associates Colleen E. Chesnut and Molly S. Stewart and graduate student Anna Sera.

"Although the changes to Indiana's teacher-evaluation law did not outline any new requirements for education leadership faculty or curricula, these policies certainly impact faculty members' work of training school leaders," Chesnut said. "We examine education leadership faculty members' perspectives on the law to broaden the scope of research on this policy and bring some insight into how programs prepare future principals for the complex task of teacher evaluation."

Key findings in the report include:

  • University education faculty say the law has brought some needed changes to teacher evaluations, including increased rigor and accountability.
  • The changes have prompted university faculty to heighten the focus on evaluation theory and practical strategies in the education leadership classes they teach.
  • Communication about the evaluation changes and how to develop new curricula has varied, with some faculty saying they have had little to no communication with other faculty on the topic.
  • Faculty said school principals may have trouble implementing the requirements because of a lack of time and inadequate knowledge of how to base evaluation decisions on data.

The Indiana legislature adopted new requirements for annual evaluations of new teachers in 2011. Under the law, all teachers must be rated in one of four categories: ineffective, improvement necessary, effective and highly effective. Teachers in the two lower categories do not receive raises, and multiple low ratings can lead to dismissal. The law says the evaluations must include both classroom evaluations and "objective measures of student achievement and growth," such as student scores on standardized tests.

"In addition to concerns about administrators' ability to use data appropriately for teacher evaluation, current issues in Indiana with delays and validity around 2015 ISTEP test scores complicate the implementation of teacher-evaluation requirements," Stewart said. "It is not yet clear how the state will address these issues."

CEEP published an analysis of the new law shortly after it was adopted. Over the next three years, CEEP and the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning at Indiana University produced issue briefs reporting the perspectives of school superintendents, principals and teachers on how the law is being implemented.

The current brief builds on that work by examining the perspectives of university faculty responsible for preparing school administrators who will perform the evaluations. It draws on semi-structured interviews with 12 faculty members at four universities.

Faculty interviewed for the study said stronger connections need to be made between evaluation results and the design of professional development opportunities for teachers. They also suggested more teacher input into creating evaluations, resulting in greater buy-in for the process.

The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, one of the country's leading nonpartisan program-evaluation and education-policy research centers, promotes and supports rigorous evaluation and research primarily, but not exclusively, for educational, human services and nonprofit organizations and agencies. CEEP's experience includes numerous external evaluations of programs funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and its Institute of Education Sciences as well as numerous contracts with state departments of education, foundations and school districts.

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