SYRACUSE — Some Wawasee Community School Corp. teachers are receiving performance grants from the Indiana Department of Education.
IDOE awarded several million dollars in teacher performance grants to qualified teachers in school districts statewide. The money was appropriated by the Indiana General Assembly in 2015 and is given as bonuses only to those teachers rated effective and highly effective.
Wawasee received a pro-rated total of $45,026.32, meaning each qualified teacher will receive about $200. Dr. Tom Edington, Wawasee superintendent, said teachers identified as needing improvement are not eligible to receive the funds. However, he said, IDOE allows an exception for first or second year teachers who can still receive the bonuses even if not rated effective or highly effective.
A few years ago it became increasingly clear the state was placing more emphasis on tying teacher evaluations in with ISTEP+ scores. As this has taken hold, it has caused concerns among administrators and teachers. It appears the formula used to award the teacher performance grants favors districts with higher income families, Edington noted.
“The $30 million in awards has been a statewide issue with schools serving well-to-do children, who score high in testing, receiving the bulk of those funds,” he said. “Teachers in Carmel received $2,500 apiece, while some districts with students in great poverty received nothing.”
Approximately one-half of the students in the Wawasee district qualify for free or reduced price lunches.
Edington also noted the state does allow some local control with how teachers are evaluated, but student test scores must be used as a certain percentage of those evaluations.