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Teach Plus Teachers Recommendations are an Integral Part of New Laws on Assessment and Educator Mentorship in Indiana

April 28, 2017

Governor Eric Holcomb Signs Both Bills into Law

Indianapolis, IN—Today, Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law the Student Assessment Bill and earlier this week, he signed into law the Teacher Induction Pilot Program bill.  Both bills incorporate extensive feedback and recommendations from Teach Plus teachers in Indiana.  Throughout the bills’ passage, Teach Plus teachers provided detailed comments on each bill’s content and offered recommendations on amendments.  The teachers testified seventeen times both orally and in written form before the House and Senate education committees and invited the bills’ sponsors to visit their schools so that lawmakers could see the direct affect of the issues addressed by the bills on classrooms, students, and teachers.

“Our teachers have had a key seat at the table working with legislators to craft smart policy on assessment and teacher induction that benefits students, teachers, and parents in Indiana,” said Elsie Owolo, Teach Plus Indiana Policy Manager.  “We’re grateful to our state’s legislators for listening to teachers and look forward to working closely with them in guiding each bill’s implementation.”

The Student Assessment Bill provides for the creation of a new state assessment to replace the current ISTEP examination. This new assessment, known as ILEARN, requires for the state exams to be given in one testing period at the end of the year, a quick turnaround for the scoring of the assessment, and a computer adaptive examination for grades 3-8.  

In 2016, two Teach Plus teachers served on the 23-member panel charged with determining the state test to replace Indiana’s previous test, the ISTEP+.  The Panel’s recommendations for the ILEARN closely mirrored the recommendations of Teach Plus teachers from across the state.  The final bill also reflects these and includes additional feedback from the teachers shared with the Indiana General Assembly, namely that: There should be one summative test at the very end of the school year; the test should be graded by Hoosier educators; and Indiana’s students need interim assessments benchmarked to the final test to help predict their performance.

“As a Latino educator in an urban school, I know how important a quality assessment is to ensuring we serve all students equitably,” said Eddie Rangel, Principal of Tindley Renaissance Academy and a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellowship alum. “I was excited to see that the bill incorporated many recommendations from teachers and look forward to working with legislators, teachers, and other stakeholders as we continue to perfect our state’s assessment system."

The Teacher Induction Pilot Program bill establishes a new educator mentorship pilot program and supports career pathways as a way to recruit and retain effective, excellent teachers for Indiana’s students.  The bill allows for more intensive professional development for incoming teachers, and supports schools and districts in creating mentorships and induction support for new teachers, principals, and administrators.  

Teach Plus teachers proposed a series of amendments to the bill which were reflected in the final legislation.  These include allowing experienced teachers to apply for mentorship roles, teachers being a part of the mentor selection process, an accountability process for mentors, and mentors receiving micro-credentials for such roles.

"Connecting new teachers with experienced mentors is essential to their growth in the profession and our students’ success.  The  new law moves teacher induction in the right direction by incorporating more teacher input into the mentorship process of new teachers and the development of a district's mentoring plan," said John Gensic, 9th and 10th grade biology teacher at Penn High School in Mishawaka and a Teach Plus Indiana Teaching Policy Fellow. 

In March and April, State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), the author of the Student Assessment bill, and state Rep. Dale DeVon (R-Granger), the author of the Teacher Induction Pilot Program bill, visited Teach Plus teachers’ schools, observed classrooms, and held round-table discussions with teachers, parents, and students to discuss their respective bills and other key education issues in the state.

About Teach Plus

Teach Plus empowers excellent, experienced teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success.  Teach Plus programs are designed to place highly effective teachers at the center of improvements in schools as leaders of their peers and outside schools influencing policy decisions that affect their classrooms.  Since its inception in August 2007, Teach Plus has grown to a network of more than 23,000 solutions-oriented teachers across the country.  www.teachplus.org

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