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Indiana Set to End Test Scores as a Mandatory Part of Teacher Evaluations

March 5, 2020

The idea of using student test scores to measure teachers is ridiculous. Testing companies know as much; that is why no testing company dares advertise its standardized tests as suitable for measuring anything other than the aptitude or achievement of the individual completing the test.

Even so, the life blood of so-called education reform is danmation by test score, be it damnation of teachers, or schools, or districts, or states, or even our nation as a whole.

After a while, though, the ed-reform, system-shake-up appeal of standardized testing loses its luster. Such has happened in Indiana as concerns the state-mandated use of student test scores as a component of teacher evaluations.

Indiana Representative Anthony Cook (R-Cicero) authored HB1002, “AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning education,” a bill in which Cook simply removed the 2011 language requiring “school corporations” to include in teacher evaluations…

…objective measures of student achievement and growth to significantly inform the evaluations. The objective measures must include:

  • Student assessment results from statewide assessments for certificated employees whose responsibilities include instruction in subjects measured by statewide assessments
  • Methods for assessing student growth for certificated employees who do not teach in areas measured by statewide assessments, and
  • Student assessment results from locally developed assessments and other test masures for certificated employees whose responsibilities may or may not include instruction in subjects and areas measured by statewide assessments.

Consequently, the bill also relieves the state board of education of “Adopt[ing]… the measures to be used to determine student academic achievement and growth” for teacher evaluations.

HB 1002 retains language to the effect that school corporations “may” choose to use “test scores of students (both formative and summative)” as part of performance evaluation plans.

Regarding his reasons for removing the state-mandated testing component in teacher evaluations, on January 07, 2020, Cook said the following in an Indiana House press release:

Local school administrators have a better grasp of educators’ strengths in the classroom. Giving individual school districts the flexibility to decide how to use test scores in evaluations will provide a more complete and accurate picture of teachers’ overall performance.

Cook added the following on January 13, 2020:

This bill empowers administrators to decide how they want to use the data these exams provide to our teachers about students’ understanding of concepts. Our swift action behind this effort is an encouraging step in supporting our teachers across Indiana.

An exam given on one day does not paint an accurate picture of the hard work our teachers put in throughout the rest of the school year.

What is interesting is the popularity in dropping the state-mandated testing component: The Indiana House voted unanimously (100-0), and the Senate, 49-1, in favor Cook’s HB 1002.

As of March 03, 2020, Indiana’s HB 1002 awaits the governor’s signature. Assuming the governor signs, HB 1002 is set to go into effect in July 01, 2020.

According to an annual Indiana State University survey conducted in 2019, 92 percent of the 115 districts participating reported difficulties in filling teaching positions in areas including special education, math, and science. In 64 percent of the cases, the shortage was of three or more teachers. Ninety-four percent of reporting districts indicated filling positions via emergency permits; 28 percent reported using full-time substitute teachers.

Though low compensation appears to be the primary reason for Indiana’s difficulties in retaining new teachers, the issue of high-stakes testing is also listed.

Perhaps states and districts might reallocate monies once used to meet teacher eval testing mandates for boosting teacher compensation.

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  1. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Good News. Unfortunately, it doesn’t eliminate the damage of standardized tests altogether.

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