Answer ( 1 )

  1. Teacher evaluation prior to 2010 was a fairly simple process in most districts. Beginning, non-tenured teachers were usually observed once or possibly twice. Tenured teachers were often not observed at all. Evaluations often took the form of a checklist of items marked Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory or Outstanding/Meets Expectations/Does Not Meet Expectations, for example. Some included a short narrative commentary with general praise/concern about performance. Teachers typically received these in writing, might meet for a short discussion of them, and signed them. Student data was not part of the evaluation process for most teachers. Once tenured, teachers were often evaluated on a cycle which did not require annual observation or evaluation/discussion of performance.

    National emphasis on stronger accountability for student performance as measured on standardized tests (both national and international) began in the early 2000’s, and federal mandates such as No Child Left Behind began to tie funding to student performance which began to increase the focus on examining teachers’ work with more consistency, emphasis on best practice, feedback for continued improvement, and ties to student growth and mastery of academic skills/content.

    In Indiana, legislation in 2011 changed the teacher evaluation process with these major outcomes:
    -Evaluation of every teacher every year with every teacher rated as either Highly Effective/Effective/Improvement Necessary/Ineffective
    -Continued employment and compensation tied to maintaining Effective ratings
    -Measures of student growth and achievement must be part of evaluation of teacher
    -Observation of teacher must take place annually
    -State Department of Education must approve district evaluation plan (with more detailed audits of district evaluation processes occurring cyclically)
    -Public reporting of some aggregated data of a district’s teacher evaluation results required annually

    A state model evaluation program was created for school districts to adopt or adapt. The state model was called RISE. Districts could also use several other nationally-approved models (e.g. TAP, PAR) or create their own evaluation process based on RISE and compliant with law and administrative code.

    While the last 8 years have seen some loosening of requirements and widely varied practices across the state, teacher evaluation has become more focused on identified standards of best practices, regular observation/feedback by peers and administrators, and links to student performance measured in a variety of ways including standardized assessments.

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