Zionsville Times Sentinel

Commentary

April 16, 2014

Want better teacher ratings? Ask the kids

The state may be back where it started, encumbered with a flawed teacher grading system, a year after implementing what were meant to be tough new standards. That was the general consensus of the State Board of Education days after teacher evaluation data were released last week. Of 50,000 public school teachers graded by their principals, less than one-half of 1 percent were deemed “ineffective.” Almost everyone else – 97 percent – was considered good or good enough. “Clearly the system failed,” said board member Gordon Hendry, before calling for a new way to get more accurate results. Much of the criticism focused on the law that mandated a new evaluation system. It was meant to tie teacher pay to performance rather than tenure – a sweeping change for Indiana. But, as in the past, the law let local school districts pick their own rating models. As a result, weight given to student test scores or the observations of principals ranged wildly. Some districts gave most teachers the highest mark of “highly effective.” Almost two dozen districts couldn’t find a single teacher who fit into that category. Joe Gramelspacher isn’t an education policy maker but a teacher who’s given evaluation systems a lot of thought. An Indianapolis native, he started his career in a Colorado district that helped pioneer the idea of performance pay. Missing from Indiana’s metrics and most models, he argues, are the opinions of students. See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.

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  • 9/11 Commission chair scolds Congress for national security failures Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous.

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  • Paper towels trump electronics A few weeks ago I saw an article on the Internet about some of the really cool, but totally not necessary, things you can buy on SkyMall. The one item that stuck with me in an odd kind of way was a paper towel holder that was also a USB charging station.

    July 30, 2014

  • What can we learn from California’s drought? Everyone knows (I’ve admitted it openly here.) that I spend my share of time on Facebook. But few know of my fascination with Twitter; tweets and hashtags can really get me going. For example, last week I heard a news story about how tweets were highlighting the California drought and its water police and snitchers.

    July 30, 2014

  • Summer Stock Stage company brings it After seeing "Hair" on Summer Stock Stage, I knew I was in for a treat with "The King and I." The kids in the company had already proven they could handle transitioning between eras and relating to their characters. It was a fun show with all of the spectacle originally intended.

    July 30, 2014

  • Watch for spider mites in ornamentals Spider mites are one of the more insidious pests we see in Central Indiana. The reason they cause so many problems is because they are small — virtually impossible to see while they are on plants. Quite often, homeowners don’t realize they are present until they see damage in their landscape.

    July 30, 2014

  • Teach children to contribute as well as receive I receive a lot of emails and phone calls from parents facing difficulty in their parenting. Often parents ask, “What do I need to give my child? What do I need to do for my child?” While there are many moments we as parents need to give or do something, sometimes the answer lies in expecting from our children.

    July 23, 2014

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    July 23, 2014

  • They've been known to pick a song or two Someone I know — I don't even remember who — used to have a "You may be a Redneck if ..." daily calendar. One day it read: You may be a Redneck if your mother has a Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt.

    July 23, 2014

  • Expiring term heightens urgency of lawmaker’s mission State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January. The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying in-state tuition to attend state colleges and universities.

    July 23, 2014

  • Exercise helps body resist injury I hurt myself last week. It’s a good one too. Low back, below the belt, all the way across. Hurt. When I get hurt, I am instantly grateful for the strength training and body care I do every week and the knowledge I’ve gain from moving my body regularly.

    July 23, 2014

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