IU report guides state Board of Education, Department of Education on teacher evaluation reform

  • Feb. 2, 2017


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- On the heels of a recently published white paper proposing improvements to Indiana’s teacher evaluation system, the Indiana Teacher Appraisal and Support System has released a four-year analysis of the implementation and impact of educator evaluation reform in Indiana.

"Indiana’s Teacher Evaluation System: A Four-Year Analysis," a report submitted to the Indiana State Board of Education, is part of an ongoing study by INTASS -- the Indiana Teacher Appraisal and Support System -- a project of the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning at IU Bloomington.

Senate Enrolled Act 1, the 2011 state law that mandated teacher evaluations, requires that all teachers be evaluated annually, that evaluations be "significantly" informed by objective measures such as test scores, and that teachers be placed in one of four categories: highly effective, effective, improvement necessary and ineffective.

The framework for the INTASS analysis included research questions concerning implementation practices, plan quality, ratings of instructional effectiveness, learning outcomes and student, educator, classroom, school and district demographics. The researchers analyzed more than 2 million student records and almost a half million educator records from a data set provided by the Indiana Department of Education. The data set included educator ratings, student assessment outcomes and teacher evaluation plan characteristics.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Teacher evaluation ratings based on student growth differ from summative ratings of teachers, which include both student growth ratings and ratings based on observation of teachers in the classroom.
  • Student poverty level as indicated by free and reduced-price lunch status is the primary predictor of both teacher evaluation ratings and student learning.
  • There is some evidence of a relationship between high-quality teacher evaluation plans and teacher effectiveness ratings as well as student outcomes.
  • Less experienced teachers are more likely to change districts than more experienced teachers. They are more likely to move from districts with high percentages of students on free and reduced-price lunch to districts with lower percentages of students on free and reduced-price lunch. After such moves, teachers receive higher summative evaluation ratings even though their student growth rating does not improve.
  • Teachers who are assigned students who performed higher on the previous year’s state assessments tend to have higher evaluation ratings.
  • Principals rated as highly effective rate teachers differently than principals rated as merely effective.
  • The current teacher evaluation models do not equitably account for student demographics.

The report suggests there is a continued need for clear guidelines and requirements for training of teacher evaluators. It also calls for consideration of additional strategies for using student growth in teacher evaluations. Such strategies could include a classroom-based teacher evaluation growth model to compare like classrooms and more equitable accounting for student demographics. The report recommends further research into the relationship between teacher evaluations and student learning outcomes.

“It is our hope that the findings from this study can inform future policy and practice for Indiana’s teacher evaluation system,” said Sandi Cole, INTASS co-project director. Cole is co-author of the report with Hardy Murphy, also an INTASS co-project director.

“The findings have obvious implications for several important issues in the school accountability discussion, including performance grant equity, teacher recruitment and retention, and the validity of the current A to F model," Murphy said.

Previous studies by INTASS found that Indiana school administrators were generally positive about teacher evaluation requirements but had reservations about how they were implemented.

About INTASS and the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning

INTASS, funded by the Indiana State Board of Education and the Joyce Foundation, is housed at the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning, one of six centers at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, a research institute that 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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