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Educator evaluations called into question

As colleges and universities celebrate the good marks their graduates received, Derek Redelman said the data might not accurately reflect how educators are performing. Redelman is vice president for Education and Workforce Policy at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Like any profession, it’s expected that there would be educators at both ends of the spectrum, he said.

“Most districts did have the biggest number in the effective category, and that’s a reasonable expectation. But it’s not reasonable for large districts to suggest they have no teachers who are ineffective or who need improvement,” Redelman said.

Some members of the Indiana State Board of Education, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, said the results are too good to be true.

Teachers in the higher two tiers are eligible for pay increases, and some board members said tying the evaluations to pay might have discouraged honest answers.

Justin Ohlemiller, state director of the education reform group Stand for Children, asked how the majority of teachers rated effective or highly effective if 1 in 4 students didn’t pass the standardized tests.

“Given that 1 in 4 Hoosier children are not passing the state ISTEP assessment, how is it that 97 percent of those teachers who were rated have been classified in the top two categories of effectiveness? Today’s data simply does not correlate with the student results we’re seeing in the classroom,” Ohlemiller said in a statement.

Despite the flaws, Redelman said that requiring school districts to complete annual evaluations of educators is a step in the right direction.

“Having so many schools now doing annual evaluations is a very good start. Some took that evaluation process seriously and identified a significant number of teachers needing improvement,” Rendelman said. “ … There’s nothing more important in the school than the teachers.”