IN Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows Recommend Changes to IPS Teacher Evaluation System

IN Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows Recommend Changes to IPS Teacher Evaluation System

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Teach Plus Indianapolis Teaching Policy Fellows released a brief today focused on Teacher Evaluation in Indianapolis. The brief, RISE to the Challenge: Developing teacher talent through effective evaluation, summarizes the findings collected from five focus groups held in April and May of 2015 with teachers from schools across the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). The Fellows facilitated the focus groups around teacher satisfaction with the current RISE evaluation in IPS and in the brief make recommendations concerning feedback and professional development resulting from the evaluation.

“Throughout the focus groups it became clear teachers want to be evaluated, but the evaluation has to be objective and implemented with fidelity, “said Teach Plus Fellow Eve Stipes, a teacher at Arsenal Tech High School. “Teachers believe evaluations are helpful if they are used to drive professional development and overall instructional improvement. As it currently stands, many teachers don’t see it as a valuable tool, but a burden for both teachers and administrators.”

Teacher focus group participants reflected the diversity of the teaching force in IPS. The five focus groups included 24 teachers ranging from four to 34 years of teaching experience, representing eleven different IPS schools and covering elementary, middle, and high school grades.

After analyzing the qualitative data from the focus groups, the Fellows found that a large number of the teachers felt there was a misalignment between the perspectives of the evaluators (administrators) and the teachers being evaluated regarding the purpose and impact of the evaluation.  Teachers shared a desire for more opportunities for feedback with more objectivity from their evaluator.  Fellows are enthusiastic about the tangible recommendations made in the brief as a result of the teacher feedback.

“This is a great starting point to help make the evaluation system useful for developing teacher talent,” said Robbie Foote, a Teach Plus Fellow and a lead author on the paper. “The changes and recommendations teachers provided gave us insight on the edits necessary to improve the system. We hope this brief will help move that conversation forward.” 

The Fellows’ recommendations to the IPS Administration include:

  1. Provide both teachers and evaluators with comprehensive, normed training on the evaluation and its purpose, including a video library of sample lessons to ensure inter-rater reliability.
  2. Diversify district evaluators to include instructional coaches to lighten the evaluation load on principals.
  3. Create an accountability metric for principals, focused on implementing evaluation with fidelity and consistency.
  4. Establish a forum where teachers’ questions and ideas on evaluation can be addressed.
  5. Incorporate new measures of feedback into the overall teacher evaluation system, including student surveys.

The Fellows’ recommendations to the IPS Principals are:

  1. Invest building-level professional development time in deepening teachers’ understandings of the evaluation process and its purpose.
  2. Incorporate and protect 15-minute pre- and post-conferences for announced recommendations.
  3. Allow and encourage teachers to self-assess before and after observations.
  4. Utilize the “comments” feature on Standards for Success to give teachers qualitative feedback.
  5. Use collaboration time strategically to allow for peer observation and feedback.

The Fellows will be presenting their findings this evening, Thursday, June 11 during the Teach Plus Showcase and Happy Hour being held at the WFYI Building (1630 N. Meridian St) from 5:00-7:00pm. Research will also be presented on Teacher Professional Development during the event. (details here)

About Teach Plus 

Teach Plus aims to improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers. Teach Plus runs three programs designed to place teacher leaders at the center of improvements in policy and practice: Teaching Policy Fellowship, C2 Initiative, and T3 (Turnaround Teacher Teams) Initiative.  The programs focus on demonstrably effective teachers who want to continue classroom teaching while also expanding their impact as leaders in their schools and in district, state, and national policy.  Since its inception in August 2009, Teach Plus has grown to a network of more than 20,000 solutions-oriented teachers across the country.