“I think the sad thing about our current system, it has set up a culture that the best financial day of a teacher’s life is the day that teacher retires. We want to recognize and reward our greatest teachers. You do nothing but uphold the nobility of our profession when you help those who want to get better get better, when you have a system that effectively and humanely helps folks find new careers if they are not fit to teach. There is nothing more noble than to do those things.”
He said the state is providing guidelines to schools for evaluation, and allowing each district to determine within those guidelines how to evaluate teachers.
Teachers have asked how growth will be determined for teachers in subjects not tested by ISTEP, or in grade levels that do not take the test.
Bennett said schools will be able to determine, for example, what makes an effective kindergarten teacher, or an effective Spanish teacher, and use those parameters.
Teachers have also questioned the fairness of using test score data, because not all students come in at grade level, and teachers don’t have classes of equal ability.
Bennett said Arne Duncan, federal education secretary, is promoting measuring student growth in evaluations.
He said he understands the fears of those in education with all the proposed changes, but that change is needed.
“This is going to change the landscape of Indiana public education that has existed for many, many years. These are structures we need to change, that haven’t been changed during a period of time the economy has changed.
“I understand there is some fear. The fact is, we have reached a point in our state history we have to put these things on the front burner. We have to say the fear will not paralyze us. It will motivate us to implement the kinds of changes we need.”
• Danielle Rush is the Kokomo Tribune education reporter. She can be reached at 765-454-8585 or firstname.lastname@example.org.