Sen. Banks: Senate approves bill to improve teacher education accountability
STATEHOUSE (Feb. 4, 2014) — A measure authored by State Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) to improve accountability in teacher education programs passed the Senate today by a unanimous vote.Senate Bill 204 would require Indiana higher education institutions’ teacher education departments to submit information on its graduates to the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), which would then be made public on IDOE’s website. This would include the following:• Average scores and pass rates for teacher licensure exams, as well as the average number of times it took an individual to pass the exam.• Percentage of graduates who obtain a full-time or part-time teaching position.• Percentage and number of graduates who teach in an Indiana school corporation and receive a rating of highly effective, effective, improvement necessary and ineffective on a performance evaluation during their first and second years of teaching.Banks’ amendment to the bill would ensure the confidentiality of any information containing a teacher’s name, identification number or other identifying criteria.Teacher education departments would also be required to report their achievement of performance standards and benchmarks, as well as additional information on their teacher candidates and department instructors.After reviewing this information, the IDOE would establish a minimum rating for teacher education departments. Schools that fail to meet the minimum rating would begin an improvement plan as established by the State Board of Education (SBOE). If a school does not follow the plan, the SBOE could disapprove the teacher education department.“Effective education begins when our teachers are still students,” Banks said. “In order to help our future teachers adequately manage and instruct their classrooms, we must ensure our teacher education departments are giving their students the tools and skills they need. My legislation provides an accountability structure to make certain that our colleges and universities are doing just that.”In addition, two other education bills authored by Banks were approved recently, including:• Senate Bill 205 – Improves charter school accountability by requiring charter school authorizers to submit an annual report that includes the schools’ vision, academic and financial performance, operational status and cost of provided services. The legislation also sets standards for turnaround academies’ management. Passed 48-0.• Senate Bill 264 – Supports school improvement by providing a stipend to Indiana’s public school teachers that take a job at a low-performing school. Passed 34-14.All three bills now move to the House of Representatives for further consideration.