- Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would untangle student test scores from teacher evaluations, Chalkbeat reports. Republican leaders support the bill, which unanimously passed the Indiana House last month.
- Tying test scores to teacher evaluations was part of a reform initiative in the state beginning in 2011. Now, a prolonged teacher shortage, questions about the tests' relevance, and a Red for Ed movement that gathered thousands last year demanding greater support for public education are taking a toll on the efforts.
- Monday, lawmakers passed a two-year hold-harmless exemption after just one-third of Indiana’s students passed both math and English portions of the state’s new ILEARN exam. In addition, the state board of education also recently voted to return takeover schools to their original districts.
Untying test scores and teacher evaluations is part of a larger national movement. For example, the New York State Legislature eliminated a requirement that uses student testing for teacher evaluations and moves oversight of evaluations to school districts and unions. The change is a shift away from President Barack Obama’s push to make the teacher evaluation process more rigorous.
In fact, several states have stepped back from assessing teachers on student test performance since passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Ten states and the District of Columbia removed the requirements, with four states allowing more flexibility for districts to decide what will be involved in the assessments. On the other hand, Alabama and Texas both started including test results in evaluations. The total number of states that require student test results in evaluations has dropped from 43 to 34.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will also no longer focus any of its grants on teacher evaluation reform, instead looking at “locally driven solutions.” The foundation is giving $1.7 billion for K-12 education over the next five years to support promising initiatives from traditional public schools, new curriculum development, charters serving students with special needs and research and development.
Debate over the effectiveness of teacher evaluations continues. Though changes are being made to give more actionable feedback, stakeholders question whether or not the changes include systematic methods that help teachers improve areas of weakness or build on areas of strength.