LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Indiana school principals will see dramatic changes
in their jobs this year as they begin assessing all teachers as required by
a law passed by the General Assembly in 2011.
The new responsibilities of evaluating every teacher in the building has
left some worried that the administrators will be stretched too thin and
that parents could feel the effects.
Karen Combs, director of elementary education for the Lafayette School
Corp., said principals already put in much more than an eight-hour workday
before the state added the requirement that they evaluate each teacher.
“And we’ve not taken anything off their plate. We just simply have added
more,” she told the Journal & Courier.
Under the 2011 law, public districts must conduct annual teacher evaluations
that place educators into four performance categories tied to merit pay:
highly effective, effective, needs improvement, and ineffective. Those in
the bottom two categories would not be eligible for automatic pay raises.
Local districts can create their own evaluations, but would have to include
objective measures of student achievement, such as test scores.
The evaluations also include in-person observations and individual goal
setting that John Layton, the assistant superintendent in Lafayette and a
former principal, estimates will add 17 additional work hours to a
principal’s workload for each teacher evaluated.
Superintendent Judy DeMuth of the Monroe County Community School Corp. said
she worries the evaluations will overtax a group of administrators already
working at full capacity.
“Will administrators have to delegate other duties in another matter?
Absolutely,” DeMuth told The Herald-Times. “All administration of a building
still has to be accounted for.”
School districts are taking different approaches to helping with the new
evaluation requirement. The Lafayette School Corp. has created four new
assistant principal positions to aid in evaluations. But that means more
money — the positions require nearly $400,000 in salary and benefit-related
The West Lafayette Community School Corp. added five work days to the
employment contracts of administrative personnel responsible for
Officials also hope to make the paperwork more manageable by using new
software that allows evaluators to complete evaluation forms via their iPads
Even so, the concerns linger.
“The issue will be you can only shift so many things,” said Principal Brett
Gruetzmacher, who will share evaluation duties of the 75 teachers at
Lafayette’s Tecumseh Junior High School with two assistant principals. “You
still need to attend to the needs of the students and the parents.
“I’m the primary evaluator for 35 teachers, and the two assistants are
primary evaluators for 20 teachers each. So we’ve got 80 days to do 75
formal evaluations,” he said.
Susan DeLong, assistant superintendent for the Tippecanoe School Corp., said
the new duties will limit time that principals can spend meeting with
“If principals are there, they’ll see them. But principals will be out
conducting these evaluations, and we think that will be noticed. They will
not be as readily available as perhaps they are now,” she said.
Jeffrey Botteron, director of educator effectiveness and leadership for the
Indiana Department of Education, acknowledged that principals’ time will be
spent differently than in years past. But he said it is necessary for
principals to be effective leaders.
“Principals are gate keepers to their schools,” he said. “Their ability to
provide effective leadership is at the heart to what is going to drive
success of teacher evaluations.”
Layton said there is a positive side to getting principals into the
“This is going to amplify the idea that our principals are now instructional
leaders,” he said. “We’ve been moving that direction for a long time, but
this just ramps it up.”