National Research Group Questions Indiana's Educator Equity Plans

Nov 20, 2017

One part of Indiana’s education plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, aims to reduce gaps in teacher effectiveness for low-income and minority students.

But a national research group has criticized the state’s final targets. The National Council of Teacher Quality says the state leaves minority students 4.3 percent more likely to be taught by ineffective teachers. Instead, it says, the state should update the plan to reflect the ultimate objective: elimination of those gaps.

Indiana officials say they consider their targeted outcome to be achievable – it’s half of the current rate. Department of Education spokesperson Adam Baker says an even more aggressive approach might hurt efforts to effectively address the issue.

“So it’s not that we’re saying this is our goal and once we reach this goal we stop,” Baker says. “What we’re saying is: this is our goal, this is what we’re going to reach or we’re going to work towards – we’re going to be extremely practical.”

Scott Syverson, who helped develop Indiana’s ESSA plan for the state Department of Education, says the projected timeline and outcomes are realistic.

“As you set goals you’re trying to set smart goals and goals that are achievable. And I think reducing it by half over the five year period is somewhat of a lofty goal.”

The report did praise the state for data collection and clear definitions around teacher effectiveness and the disparities seen among minority and low-income students.

Syverson says the department will continue to evaluate the plan as feedback becomes available from various sources. Indiana’s ESSA plan was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for approval in September.