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April 9, 2014

Valley educators say teacher evaluations going smoothly

CLINTON — The second year of a new, state-mandated teacher evaluation process is going more smoothly, and educators know what to expect, say some Wabash Valley school superintendents.

Also, the districts have made some changes to their teacher evaluation process to make it more efficient and allow more time with teachers who need improvement.

In South Vermillion School Corp., 95 percent of teachers ranked highly effective or effective, while none made the bottom two categories. Twenty-one teachers were highly effective, and 114 were effective. For seven, evaluations were “not applicable.”

Last year, the process was demanding in terms of time necessary for the evaluations, said Superintendent Dave Chapman. This year, “We’ve tweaked our process and submitted it to the state for modification to make it better and more efficient,” he said.

Last year, every teacher received three shorter observations and two long ones — if a school had 30 teachers, that meant an administrator had to do 150 observations.

For this year, teachers who have been rated highly effective receive two short observations and one long one — more if needed. New teachers and those in the bottom two categories will still have five, more if needed.

“It’s a lot smoother this year,” Chapman said. “Everyone knows the expectations and what will take place.”

In Clay Community Schools, 78 percent ranked highly effective or effective, with 21 percent not applicable. Sixty-seven rated highly effective, 181 effective, two improvement needed and one ineffective. For 65 educators, an evaluation was not applicable (for example they might have worked less than 120 days).

This year, the district also has made changes that allow administrators to spend more time with those who need improvement, said Tim Rayle, assistant superintendent. Last year, all teachers required at least five observations (three short, two extended), but this year, the minimum is two (one extended, one short). There is no maximum, for those who need more observations.

The change allows more time with teachers in need of improvement.

Also this year, for all teachers, 75 percent of the evaluation is based on the teacher effectiveness rubric, or observations. Last year, it varied between 50 to 75 percent, depending on whether the teacher taught ISTEP subjects.

Last year, the district implemented RISE; this year, because it has modified RISE, the evaluation tool is called Clay Community Schools Evaluation Instrument.

Rayle noted that early in the process last  year, administrators began working with those teachers who needed improvement, which helped with the final rating.

For other districts:

• In North Central Parke Community School Corp., 80 teachers were rated highly effective (74 percent), 26 effective (24 percent), one improvement needed and none ineffective. One was not applicable.

• Southwest Parke: 20 highly effective (25 percent); 58 effective (73 percent); 1 needs improvement; 1 ineffective.

• North Vermillion: 1 highly effective (1.5 percent); 50 effective (76 percent), five need improvement; none ineffective; 10 not applicable.

Northeast and Southwest Sullivan did not have to participate in the new state evaluation system last year because they fell under already-existing collective bargaining agreements.

This year, both are using a modified RISE evaluation tool.

“There have been a lot of growing pains, but we’ve worked our way through it,” said Chris Stitzle, superintendent of Southwest Sullivan schools. District officials did a lot of studying and consulting in adopting its evaluation method, he said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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