New teacher evaluation program streamlined 

By Paige Clark

A new law to "streamline" teacher evaluations becomes effective July 1, but will not take any action until the 2015-2016 school year because additional funds are needed.

Rep. Bob Behning, R- Indianapolis, author of House Bill 1388, said the new evaluations are part of an effort to have the "brightest and best" teaching Indiana's students.

He said the evaluations "focuses on the front end and back end" of teaching preparation programs because teachers and colleges will be able to track education students for five years after they graduate.

"They're starting to look at the inputs, not just the outputs of teacher programs," Behning said.

Behning said one big difference the new law makes is requiring principals to fill out teacher evaluations too.

He said the forms will all be the same, making it easier for the Department of Education to sort through the data and allowing schools to access the information faster. Teachers and school corporations must all fill out evaluations and report them to the DOE.

"In the past it's been very difficult to get the data collected," Behning said. "Everybody is busy and has their own agenda. This requires them to (complete surveys) and report it to the DOE."

Under the law, the DOE must publish the information it receives on its web site, transmit summaries to teacher prep programs and prescribe forms for teachers, principals and school corporations.

Also, the DOE - together with the Commission for Higher Education, the State Board of Education and the Independent Colleges of Indiana - must establish a matrix rating system for the teacher prep programs that incorporate the data received form the surveys.

Behning said the new evaluations will not take effect until the 2015-2016 school year because the DOE was "concerned about the cost" and needed two years to get their data systems in place.

According the latest fiscal statement, the Department of Education "could require additional resources to collect, compile and report information."

But, the bill did not state how much additional funds the DOE needed to meet the requirements of the bill. Also, the fiscal statement said the principal and school corporations surveys should be able to be completed within existing resources and that teacher surveys can be completed within minimal costs.

The DOE did not answer requests to comment on the actual costs of the new teacher prep program or the reason an extra year was necessary.

Paige Clark is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.

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