After receiving the results from the annual teacher evaluation instruments in Indiana for the school year 2012-2013, experts have said they are unrealistic, with 88% of teachers and administrators receiving ratings of "effective" or "highly effective" and only 2% earning a "needs improvement" rating.
The system used to evaluate teachers varies across Indiana's school districts, but even schools with a D or F rating were coming up with the same "no need for improvement" results according to Summer Ballentine, writing for the Associated Press. In some school districts, every teacher was given an "effective" rating.
The evaluation tests were put in place as a method to evaluate which teachers should receive a salary increase, with those in the two highest ratings brackets eligible.
Indiana House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning said "â¦ too much district control in determining the evaluations might have skewed the results."
Districts were able to choose how to conduct the evaluations so long as a "significant" percentage ws based on standardized tests in an effort to eliminate biases. Behning said that might be too vague to get comparable results from each district.
But some school officials argue that no single evaluation system can accurately rank one school against another.
In-class teacher assessment by principals and tying standardized testing results to teachers' evaluation could have played a part in the teacher evaluation controversy, according to Hayleigh Colombo of jconline.com.
The high number of teachers considered effective have caused some to question the validity of the accountability data. It revived a key question in the often politicized debates over teacher evaluations — whether too many teachers are deemed excellent, disproportionate to the number of failing students and schools.
Put simply: How could so many teachers be doing so well when so many students are not?
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz was quoted as saying that she was proud of the superior ratings of the Indiana teachers. The results, she added confirmed what Indiana already knew: The state's teachers are competent and effective. According to an article by the Journal Gazette's Niki Kelly and Julie Crothers, the education advocacy group Stand for Children disagrees with Ritz's opinion, stating that they can not understand the results based on students' performance in Indiana schools.
"Given that one in four Hoosier children are not passing the state ISTEP (Indiana Statewide Test for Educational Progress) assessment, how is it that 87 percent of those teachers who were rated have been classified in the top two categories of effectiveness? Today's data simply does not correlate with the student results we're seeing in the classroom."
Ritz also noted that the teachers who were rated "highly effective" were teachers who were assigned to schools that received an "A" rating. She says that the disproportionate numbers of good teachers at good schools might need to be reversed. She believes that the best teachers should be teaching in the schools that need a turnaround.
Sen. Dennis Kruse, (R-Auburn), said that the results of the test are an instrument for individual schools to identify teachers who are in need of help. The tests are not designed to compare school to school or school district to school district.