Indiana lawmakers back dropping tests in teacher evaluations

Indiana legislators have voted to end the mandatory use of student standardized test results in teacher evaluations, dropping a requirement long opposed by teachers.

The state Senate voted 50-0 Tuesday in favor of the proposal, following a unanimous vote by House members in January. The bill heads to Gov. Eric Holcomb, who can sign it, veto it or let it pass into law without his signature.

The votes represent an about-face on the mandate dating from a 2011 Republican-driven education overhaul that school districts incorporate those student exam results in their teacher evaluations, which are used in determining merit pay raises. Schools districts would still have the option of incorporating the scores in evaluations.

Bill sponsor Rep. Tony Cook, a Republican from Cicero, has said removing the requirement acknowledges the trouble with measuring teacher effectiveness based on a single student exam.

The test mandate was often decried during a November rally by thousands of teachers at the Statehouse, but some business and education reform groups opposed dropping it.

The opponents maintain most teachers are being rated effective or highly effective under the current system and that the test scores typically make up less than 10% of the rating.

Indiana Chamber of Commerce Vice President Jason Bearce said the state should include objective test scores along with subjective reviews by school administrators in the evaluations.

“Jettisoning it all together, we think, sends the wrong message and ultimately will be counterproductive to education in the state,” Bearce told a Senate committee last month.

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