Impact of new teacher evaluation systems considered

  • Oct. 14, 2013

By Mary Keck 331-4353 |

How can school corporations prepare for the legal issues they could face as a result of new teacher evaluations? How will these evaluations shape teacher training and education?

An “Education Policy Brief” from Indiana University’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy and the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community answers these and other questions and offers recommendations to schools and legislators.

“Indiana’s Teacher Evaluation Legislation: Implications and Challenges for Policy, Higher Education, and Professional Development” describes expectations for teachers based on the new evaluation standards.

For example educators will be required to make decisions on teaching strategies based on data from student achievement and growth measures such as ISTEP. Changes brought on by the evaluation standards mean “traditional college and university teacher and administrator preparation programs must evolve and innovate in order to stay current, relevant and aligned with teacher evaluation laws,” the brief stated. Those innovations may include a focus on teaching future educators to make data-based decisions to improve student performance.

Not only will data analysis become increasingly important for teachers, the necessity to instruct more and more diverse groups of learners will change how higher education institutions prepare teachers. One of the brief’s authors, Pat Rogan from the School of Education at IU-Purdue University at Indianapolis, stated in a news release: “Given the demands on teachers to effectively teach an increasingly diverse student population within an environment of higher standards and expectations, it is imperative that universities and schools collaborate in the development of preservice and inservice teachers and school leaders.”

The report also noted public schools operating under the new evaluation system will need to prepare for potential legal implications. Concerns about litigation “should neither paralyze nor distract school corporations from creative, rigorous and robust teacher evaluation systems,” it points out. But it also advises schools to give their teachers a copy of their evaluations within seven days and follow a 90-day remediation plan. “Teachers need to be given notice of the evaluator’s expectations and notice of any deficiencies,” the brief suggested. “A written agreement between the bargaining unit and the school corporation should be in place that acknowledges the imperfections of the individual components of the system, but stipulates the validity of the process, with procedures to allow for fair and accurate ratings,” it added.

“Recent lawsuits challenging state teacher evaluation law were filed in Florida and New Mexico,” said Suzanne Eckes, associate professor in the IU School of Education, in a news release. “These lawsuits will be interesting to monitor,” she noted.

The authors of the brief also recommended developing a state certification process for evaluators who will be rating teachers and aligning professional development with data from teacher evaluations.

The Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corp. has already implemented annual teacher evaluations. Educators are rated as highly effective, effective, needs improvement or ineffective, and the ratings are based on a Teacher Performance Rubric, classroom observations conducted by principals, and state assessments of student growth and achievement like the ISTEP test. At its last meeting, the R-BB school board tied yearly teacher raises of half a percent to the evaluations.

Monroe County Community School Corp. expects to adopt a new evaluation system in 2015, when its current teacher contract expires.

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.