Lucas: Supporting our educators, schools

Posted by: Randy Spieth  | Tuesday, February 4, 2020

We all place a high value on the hard work and dedication our educators put in every day as they shape Indiana’s next generation. As a member of the House Education Committee, I continue to hear the valuable input teachers provide to help shape key bills we are working on this session to meet their needs. 

A piece of legislation we are fast-tracking this session is House Bill 1001, which would hold teachers and schools harmless from the 2019 and 2020 ILEARN results. This comes as Indiana transitions from ISTEP to the new ILEARN exam, which is the state’s standardized test required by federal law. Students in third through eighth take this exam on a computer, which measures their skills in various subjects. It was expected the switch to a new exam would come with lower test scores. So, this proposed legislation would ensure teachers and schools are not negatively impacted by these results for two years during the transition in order to adjust to the new exam.

Teachers voiced they do not want student standardized test scores to be tied to their annual evaluations, which can influence teacher pay. Under House Bill 1002, local school districts would be able to decide how those scores are used in teacher performance evaluations. We know student achievement can be measured in a variety of ways, and local school districts have a better understanding of their teaching staff’s strengths. Empowering local school districts to decide how they want to use these exams in teacher evaluations will help ensure more accurate assessments of our educators’ performance in the classroom.

Our educators not only teach math and language arts, they are also responsible for complying with many mandates, which have become increasingly burdensome. To provide them with more flexibility, House Bill 1003 allows for school districts to apply for a waiver to bypass certain regulations. It also directs the State Board of Education to streamline and evaluate teacher training requirements. Currently, educators can choose 1 of 4 options to renew their license. One option teachers can choose is the Professional Growth Plan, where educators can earn 90 hours or points over five years. This legislation would no longer require teachers to obtain 15 of those hours through professional development related to their community’s workforce needs.

By holding teachers harmless from ILEARN scores, decoupling student test scores from annual evaluations and providing more flexibility in training and licensure requirements, we are working to better support our educators as they continue to serve as the cornerstone of communities across Indiana.

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State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) represents House District 69, which includes
portions of Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings and Jefferson counties.
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here to download a high-resolution photo.