[r31] The Mahan Messenger: Long nights and hard work pays off (4/25/2011)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Start Date: 4/25/2011 All Day
End Date: 4/25/2011
As a freshman legislator, I came in eager to work and willing to accomplish what was necessary to make our state and our community better then what it was before I started. Although this session has been an interesting ride, my goal has remained the same.

We have had some long nights over the past few weeks, but we have been able to pass legislation concerning education reform-something that is important to me and crucial for our state's economy.

Senate Bill 1 was center stage for much debate this week, and rightly so because our current system does not allow us to recognize excellence in teaching, nor does it allow us to address poor performance.

We know the most important factor in raising student achievement is the quality of the school leader and the teacher that delivers the instruction. This bill directly addresses that need-shifting our focus to supporting and retaining our best teachers.

Therefore, Senate Bill 1 puts together parameters for a locally created evaluation system, which places educators into one of four categories-highly effective, effective, improvement necessary and ineffective.

The local school board, partnering with teachers, would create their own evaluation plan based on the criteria created by the State Board of Education, which defines each performance category; the measures that define student performance; the standards that define what actions constitute a negative impact on student performance; and an acceptable set of standards for training evaluations.

At least 75 percent of teachers would have to agree on the newly created evaluation plan.

In addition, SBOE and the Department of Education would also be responsible for ensuring the availability of ongoing training for evaluators on how to properly conduct an evaluation.

In a knowledge-based economy, a teacher's effectiveness in a classroom is critical, yet the current system does not mandate a school administrator to look at a teacher's classroom performance when making important staffing decisions.

In 2010, Indiana honored a number of outstanding Hoosier educators for their dedication and commitment to their students. Ironically, two of those teachers were later laid off due to staffing decisions based solely on seniority.

Like when I came in, I will leave knowing that I served my community with the best of my ability.