Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett mostly told the truth in his State of Education address last week, but not always the whole truth. There were no pants-on-fire whoppers – just the fact-bending you expect in an election year.
A few examples, with Bennett’s claims in italics:
(More students) are taking and passing challenging Advanced Placement exams. In fact, Indiana has the second highest two-year AP pass rate gains in the nation. In four years, the number of Indiana students taking advanced classes and exams has increased by almost 50 percent, and their success rate has jumped by 48 percent. This is news worth celebrating.
It is, but according to the College Board’s AP Report to the Nation, Indiana remains in the middle of the pack for most measures of AP test performance. Indiana’s percentage of graduates who took an AP class and scored 3 or higher on the exam is below the national average. Its rate of improvement in passing scores between 2001 and 2011 is right at the national average.
Beginning this school year, all districts will use locally designed teacher evaluations. These new evaluations must consider students’ academic performance and growth, but local schools have full flexibility to determine the other factors to include in the overall evaluation of teacher effectiveness.
It would be accurate to say that “most school districts” will begin using the new evaluations this year. However, some districts, like the Monroe County Community School Corp. in Bloomington, are operating under multi-year teacher contracts that specify how teachers are to be evaluated. Continue reading