Pence Looks to Preserve Teacher Bonuses

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Pence says student achievement in Indiana is "improving across the board." Pence says student achievement in Indiana is "improving across the board."

Governor Mike Pence is calling on lawmakers to not let anticipated lower ISTEP+ scores affect teacher evaluations and bonuses this year. In a letter to Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and members of the State Board of Education, Pence said lower scores are expected due to the transition to new standards.

Earlier this month, the board delayed the approval of 2014-2015 ISTEP+ cut scores because of concerns about differences between the online and paper versions of the tests. The board is set Wednesday to consider the scores again.

The letter from Governor Pence is below:

Dear Superintendent Ritz and Members of the State Board of Education:

In education, raising the bar is a good thing. It is good for our state, good for our schools, and unquestionably the right thing to do for our students. For that reason, Indiana recently transitioned to more rigorous college and career-ready academic standards and a new assessment.

When states transition to new academic standards and a new assessment, test scores usually decrease, which occurred in the test scores you will review this week. This decline in scores was expected and does not reflect the hard work being done in our schools. In fact, our schools and teachers are doing the same great work today as they did in years past; we are experiencing the normal consequences of higher standards and a new exam. Given the transition Indiana has undergone this year with our academic standards and assessment, our response should reflect fairness to our students, our teachers and our schools.

In speaking with teachers from around the state, I understand and am grateful for the time and effort that went into this transition year. Our teachers rose to the challenge and worked hard to prepare students for the new higher academic standards, and I believe our teachers should not be penalized for the anticipated decline in test scores associated with the new exam.

Accordingly, I am writing to inform you that I have reached out to Republican House and Senate leadership in the Indiana General Assembly and legislation is currently being crafted to ensure that test results will not negatively impact teacher evaluations or performance bonuses this year. It is important to ensure that our A-F system fairly reflects the efforts of our students and teachers during this transition year. I welcome recommendations from the board as we craft solutions that preserve accountability and transparency for Indiana's academic system.

It is also important that our A-F system for this transition year appropriately captures performance in a way that is fair to our schools and our communities. We grade our children every week and we can grade our schools every year, but those grades should fairly reflect the efforts of our students and teachers as we transition to higher standards and a new exam.

Student achievement in Indiana is improving across the board. Our state is blessed to have world-class educators who drive these results. As we raise our goals even higher, we should celebrate their accomplishments and transition with complete confidence into a new academic era in our state.
Thank you for your service and the work that each of you do to ensure that high quality education is available to every child in Indiana.


Michael R. Pence
?Governor of Indiana

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