After nearly all Indiana educators who received evaluation ratings were deemed effective Monday, there was a spectrum of reaction. Some called the notion that only 0.4 percent of the state’s 50,000 teachers were ineffective impossible. Others say it only confirms what many teachers believe, but some pushing for educational change have doubted: that most teachers are doing a great job.
Here are some of the reactions from key players in the state’s education debate.
Indiana state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, until her election in 2012, was an elementary school teacher, school librarian and union president.
In a statement, she noted room to improve despite the high effectiveness ratings, particularly in F-rated schools, which had considerably fewer teachers in the top category of “highly effective.”
But she praised the data as demonstrating the good work of Indiana’s teachers:
“I am encouraged by these numbers. For the most part, they confirm what we already knew: that public schools throughout Indiana are filled with effective and highly effective teachers. Research shows that highly effective educators are exactly the type of leaders that can turn schools around and increase school performance.”
The Indiana State Teachers Association cited recent changes in legislation that prohibit the release individual teacher data as a relief to teachers, allowing them to review the results themselves. The union called the high percentage of effective teachers “not at all surprising” in a statement:
“These results should send a strong and resounding message to educators and (more importantly) policymakers throughout Indiana: Hoosier teachers are performing at high levels and are demonstrating excellence in the classroom. In the wake of this news about evaluations, ISTA calls on policymakers to refocus their collective attention on providing resources to teachers, classrooms and student programs designed to help children learn. With the upcoming budget-writing legislative session, it is time for legislators to turn from reforms centered on bureaucracy and adults, and move toward improvements in learning opportunities for students. In the meantime, ISTA commends Indiana’s teachers for a job well done.”
Stand for Children, a group that advocates for school choice, high standards and other educational changes, said the lack of differentiation among teachers in the data makes it difficult for schools to identify and reward their most deserving teachers and help those who need to improve:
“Aiding teachers in their growth starts with an honest assessment of their job performance. That’s why the data released today on teacher evaluations in Indiana is so troubling. It’s not providing a true and accurate assessment, and it certainly is not giving parents and our community insight into whether our children are experiencing great instruction in our classrooms.”
One of the more unusual statements came from Tindley Accelerated Schools, the charter school organization that operates Indianapolis’ Arlington High School under a contract with the state as part of the state takeover process. The four other schools in state takeover all submitted data. Only Tindley didn’t. On Monday, Tindley officials promised they would do so, explaining that they thought they were operating under charter school rules. Charter schools were exempt for reporting teacher evaluation data in the original 2011 law, but will be required going forward under a law passed last month by the Indiana legislature:
“The DOE-ER referenced by the department of education is a report that charter schools are exempted from submitting and is not typically part of our reporting cycle at Tindley Accelerated Schools. When we were asked to take on this important work, we were assured by the previous administration that we would be given charter-like operational flexibility in our management of Arlington High School. In our first operational year, The DOE-ER and several other reporting requirements that apply to traditional public schools in school districts have been the source of continuous conversation between our office and the department of education. We had hoped that there might be some clarity offered in this legislative session, but that did not happen by the close of the session. Consequently, Tindley Accelerated Schools accepts the new mandate of the department of education and is submitting the DOE-ER report per the request of the department.”