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This month, we feature a guest blog written by Steve Baker, Principal of Bluffton High School.  Standard For Success values client feedback, and we are honored to share Mr. Baker’s perspective on teacher evaluation:

 Legislation-Teacher Evaluation

With the passage of Senate Bill 1 in 2012, teacher evaluations took on a new look for every school district in the State of Indiana. For the first time schools would have specific guidelines and expectations on conducting teacher evaluations. It gave schools common rubrics and procedures to evaluate teachers on an annual basis. This also gave evaluators an avenue to provide teachers with valuable feedback  and information to help guide and improve teacher performance. Common rubrics were established to give educators a common language to increase teacher performance with detailed and targeted areas of teacher performance expectations.

The new teacher evaluation system also gave administrators the opportunity to use new evaluator tools to help guide the process.  Standard for Success is one tool that was created with the input from principals to create an effective vehicle to enhance the evaluation process. This simple, yet comprehensive instrument has provided evaluators a consistent and reliable method to generate dialogue centered around improving teacher performance.  I have used Standard for Success since its inception.  It has allowed me to have very directed and purposeful conversations with teachers.  These conversations have led to improvement in the area of teacher instruction that has been welcomed by teachers who truly want to improve their craft.

One of the best parts of the teacher evaluation process is the rubric that was developed by educators in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Education.  Competencies ranging from developing student understanding to engaging students to checking for understanding has allowed me to give laser feedback to my teachers in a timely and reliable manner.  These nine competencies are research based and truly focus on what effective teaching should look like.  I have used this rubric with the nine competencies to help beginning teachers understand the traits of an effective teacher.  Before my first observation, I discuss the set of rubrics with the beginning teacher and tell him/her that not only are these my expectations but this is the standard of what good teaching looks like.  Every department in my building utilizes these competencies to guide them as their craft evolves.

Changing the Process

Before Senate Bill 1 was passed in 2012, I believe that teacher evaluations were inconsistent and not conducted as often as they should.  This bill has provided administrators with the incentives, tools and consistent language to work with our teachers.  Teacher evaluations primary purpose is not to identify and dismiss poor teachers, it is to provide ALL teachers with a snapshot of where they are, where they need to be and a roadmap on how to get there.  I have become a better evaluator over the last five years because I have embraced this opportunity to stand alongside my teachers as we travel the journey of education together.

About the Author

Steve Baker has worked in the Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District since 1985 as a high school math teacher for 11 years, middle school assistant principal for 3 years and as the high school principal for the last 18 years.

Bluffton High School has earned an “A” grade or its equivalent from the Indiana Department of Education for the last 8 out of 9 years.  Bluffton High School has also received the 4-star award four times since 2010.  Additionally, he has been a member of the Indiana Association of School Principals (IASP) for 21 years and is currently serving on the executive board of directors.  He was president of the IASP in 2010, and currently serves as the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) state coordinator and the IASP liaison to the Indiana Department of Education.  In November 2012, Steve accepted the Indiana High School Principal of the Year award.  Steve has served on the Educator Evaluation Committee and the Indiana ISTEP replacement panel.  Throughout the year, Steve makes numerous presentations at conferences around the state on topics such as leadership, school culture, accountability, and Indiana’s teacher evaluation model.

Twitter –@ BHS__Principal




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