Principals say evaluating teachers changes roles
Last Updated: 242 days ago
BLOOMFIELD, Ind. - Principals in a small southwest Indiana school district are finding that their jobs have changed since they began evaluating teachers' performance under a new state law.
Bloomfield Junior-Senior High School Principal David Dean said he is spending much more time in the classroom, watching teachers interact with kids.
"Our responsibility will certainly be readjusted because, and this is a good thing, because the majority of our time will be spent on instruction and in the classroom and dealing with student achievement," Dean told The Herald-Times (http://bit.ly/San37M ) for a Saturday story.
The district of about 1,100 students about 25 miles southwest of Bloomington was one of the first to use the evaluations required by a law the Legislature passed last year. Bloomfield has used the system for a year as part of a pilot program, while most schools didn't begin using the evaluations until this year. The law requires teachers to be evaluated annually, and those in the bottom two of four categories are not eligible for pay raises.
The system requires each classroom performance to be monitored as part of the process, and in practice, the monitors are generally principals. At Bloomfield High, Dean has an assistant principal to help evaluate the school's 33 teachers.
Bloomfield Elementary Principal Mary Jane Vandeventer, who evaluates her 34 teachers by herself, said she has to rely more on data — including results of standardized state testing.
"I've been here for 12 years. I was in every classroom every day, prior to RISE, so it really hasn't changed my perspective. But I do think it's forced us to look more at the data and make sure we are implementing the best instruction we can daily for our students," Vandeventer said.
The reliance on state testing has some teachers concerned, she said, because it doesn't take into account the everyday teaching process.
"You can't just look at a score on a test and identify that as what that student is," she said. "That is just one component of who that child is."
Indiana Department of Education official Emily Garrett said schools have choice on how much they rely on student performance data. School districts can use a state evaluation system, or create their own as long as it follows guidelines set by the state.
"Something that set our law apart from other states is the fact that we set guidelines as a state and gave school corporations a choice in determining which evaluation tool to use," Garrett said. "With that choice comes lots of other choices, such as determining how much student performance data to include and what types of data to include for teachers in non-tested subjects."
Despite some teachers' uneasiness, Bloomfield's principals said they were comfortable with the process.
"I think if you stay focused on students and their educational needs, then it's a positive move for everyone involved, because in the end you're going to have higher student achievement, and that's what we're all here for," Vandeventer said
Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com
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