Evaluation of Effectiveness : Indiana

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Evaluation of Effectiveness : Indiana results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/IN-Evaluation-of-Effectiveness--8

Analysis of Indiana's policies

Indiana does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.

Recent legislation requires school corporations to develop annual educator evaluations based on multiple measures that include student performance. Objective measures of student achievement and growth must "significantly inform" the evaluation.

In addition to a core professionalism rubric, the state's model rubric includes three domains: purposeful planning, effective instruction and teacher leadership. The state evaluation rubric (RISE) and alternative models will be piloted in the fall of 2011. Information from the Indiana Teacher Effectiveness Pilot will be used to fine-tune the model. Scoring of the state's rubric has yet to be determined. 

Further, Indiana's new legislation now commendably requires classroom observations, and evaluators must utilize the following multiple rating categories: highly effective, effective, improvement necessary and ineffective. 


Recommendations for Indiana

Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Indiana's requirement that objective measures of student achievement and growth must "significantly inform" the evaluation is a step in the right direction, it falls short by failing to require that evidence of student learning be the most significant criterion. The state should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. This can be accomplished by requiring objective evidence to count for at least half of the evaluation score or through other scoring mechanisms, such as a matrix, that ensure that nothing affects the overall score more. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom. 

Ensure that evaluations also include classroom observations that specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Indiana now commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective, and efficient use of class time.

State response to our analysis

Indiana posed the question regarding the difference between significant and preponderant. The state asserted that NCTQ was splitting hairs and that it deserved more credit for this goal. 

Last word

Although Indiana's requirement that objective measures of student growth be a significant part of teacher evaluations is a step in the right direction, the state cannot guarantee that it will be the most significant component. The only way to ensure this is to mandate that objective measures of student growth be the preponderant criterion. NCTQ sees this as considerably more than hair splitting. The point is that a teacher should be unable to get an overall effective rating if he or she is not effective in terms of student performance, which could happen if student learning need only be included to a district-defined "significant" extent. Only an evaluation system where student learning is the preponderant criterion ensures that this will not happen.

Research rationale

Reports strongly suggest that most current teacher evaluations are largely a meaningless process, failing to identify the strongest and weakest teachers. The New Teacher Project's report, "Teacher Hiring, Assignment and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools (CPS)" (July2007) at: http://www.tntp.org/files/TNTPAnalysis-Chicago.pdf, found that the CPS teacher performance evaluation system at that time did not distinguish strong performers and was ineffective at identifying poor performers and dismissing them from Chicago schools. See also Brian Jacobs and Lars Lefgren, "When Principals Rate Teachers," Education Next (Spring 2006). Similar findings were reported for a larger sample in The New Teacher Project's The Widget Effect (2009) at: http://widgeteffect.org/.  See also MET Project (2010). Learning about teaching: Initial findings from the measures of effective teaching project. Seattle, WA: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A Pacific Research Institute study found that in California, between 1990 and 1999, only 227 teacher dismissal cases reached the final phase of termination hearings. The authors write: "If all these cases occurred in one year, it would represent one-tenth of 1 percent of tenured teachers in the state. Yet, this number was spread out over an entire decade." In Los Angeles alone, over the same time period, only one teacher went through the dismissal process from start to finish. See Pamela A. Riley, et al., "Contract for Failure," Pacific Research Institute (2002).
That the vast majority of districts have no teachers deserving of an unsatisfactory rating does not seem to correlate with our knowledge of most professions that routinely have individuals in them who are not well suited to the job. Nor do these teacher ratings seem to correlate with school performance, suggesting teacher evaluations are not a meaningful measure of teacher effectiveness. For more information on the reliability of many evaluation systems, particularly the binary systems used by the vast majority of school districts, see S. Loeb et al, "Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added." The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality (2010). 

There is growing evidence suggesting that standards-based teacher evaluations that include multiple measures of teacher effectiveness—both objective and subjective measures—correlate with teacher improvement and student achievement. For example see T. Kane et al, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next Vol 11 No. 3 (2011); E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." National Bureau of Economic Research (2011); as well as Herbert G. Heneman III, et al., "CPRE Policy Brief: Standards-based Teacher Evaluation as a Foundation for Knowledge- and Skill-based Pay," Consortium for Policy Research, 2006.