Future of Teaching

One of these 10 finalists will be Indianapolis Public Schools Teacher of the Year

PHOTO: Alan Petersime
Ten Indianapolis Public Schools teachers were named finalists for district teacher of the year.

Indianapolis Public Schools named 10 finalists for the 2018 Teacher of the Year award.

The finalists come from elementary and high schools across the district. The newest educator among the candidates has been teaching for four years, while the most experienced has taught for more than thirty years.

The winning teacher, who will be announced Monday, will be a candidate for Indiana Teacher of the Year. Micah Nelson, a teacher at Center for Inquiry at School 2, was named IPS Teacher of the Year in 2016.

It’s one of two prestigious recognitions for IPS teachers this week: The winners of the Hubbard Life-Changing Teacher Awards, who will receive $25,000 each, will be named at a ceremony today. In fact, Genevieve McLeish-Petty, who teaches English at Northwest Community High School, is a finalist for both awards.

“These teachers embody leadership and dedication to the classroom,” said Deputy Superintendent Wanda Legrand in a statement.  “We are grateful for their passion for teaching and a desire to make a difference in our IPS students.”

Here are the finalists:

Megan Hayes
Fifth-grade teacher at School 99 with seven years teaching experience.

Theresa Mandery
Third-grade teacher at School 54 with 18 years teaching experience.

David Baldock
Kindergarten teacher at Center for Inquiry School 2 with four years teaching experience.

Kathleen Rauth
Media specialist at Center for Inquiry School 27 with 30 years teaching experience.

Julie Beaty
Fourth-grade teacher at School 34 with 13 years teaching experience.

Suzanne Dennis
Fifth-grade teacher at School 96 with 32 years teaching experience.

Genevieve McLeish-Petty
English teacher at Northwest Community High School with 17 years teaching experience.

Melissa Mullins
First-grade teacher at School 58 with 16 years teaching experience.

Carrie Reiberg
Theater teacher at Shortridge High School with 14 years teaching experience.

Melissa Scherle Collins
Second-grade teacher at School 14 with 13 years teaching experience.

Update (June 1, 2017): This story has been updated because the district rescheduled the teacher of the year announcement to Monday.

Struggling Detroit schools

The list of promises is long: Arts, music, robotics, gifted programs and more. Will Detroit schools be able to deliver?

PHOTO: Detroit Public Television
Detroit schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti answers questions at a community meeting in Detroit.

Arts. Music. Robotics. Programs for gifted kids. New computers. New textbooks. Dual enrollment programs that let high school students take college classes. International Baccalaureate. Advanced Placement.

They’re all on the list of things that Detroit schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told a group of community members assembled in a Brightmoor neighborhood church that he would introduce or expand as soon as next school year.

Vitti didn’t get into the specifics of how the main Detroit district would find the money or partnerships needed to deliver on all of those promises, but they’re part of the plan for the future, he said.

The comments came in a question and answer session last month with students, parents and community members following Vitti’s appearance on Detroit Public Television’s American Black Journal/One Detroit Roadshow. The discussion was recorded at City Covenant Church. DPTV is one of Chalkbeat’s partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

Vitti has been appearing at community events since taking over the Detroit schools last spring. He is scheduled next week to join officials from two of the city’s major charter school authorizers, Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University, at a State of the Schools address on October 25.


Watch the full Q&A with Vitti below.

Another error

Missing student data means 900 Tennessee teachers could see their growth scores change


Tennessee’s testing problems continue. This time the issue is missing students.

Students’ test scores are used to evaluate teachers, and the failure of a data processing vendor to include scores for thousands of students may have skewed results for some teachers, officials said.

The scores, known as TVAAS, are based on how students improved under a teacher’s watch. The scores affect a teacher’s overall evaluation and in some districts, like Shelby County Schools, determine if a teacher gets a raise.

The error affects 1,700 teachers statewide, or about 9 percent of the 19,000 Tennessee teachers who receive scores. About 900 of those teachers had five or more students missing from their score, which could change their result.

The latest glitch follows a series of mishaps, including test scanning errors, which also affect teacher evaluations. A delay earlier this summer from the Tennessee Department of Education’s testing vendor, Questar, set off a chain of events that resulted in the missing student scores.

To calculate a teacher’s growth score, students and their test scores are assigned to a teacher. About 3 percent of the 1.5 million student-teacher assignments statewide had to be manually submitted in Excel files after Questar experienced software issues and fell behind on releasing raw scores to districts.

RANDA Solutions, a data processing vendor for the state, failed to input all of those Excel files, leading to the teachers’ scores being calculated without their full roster of students, said Sara Gast, a state spokeswoman. The error will not affect school or district TVAAS scores. (District-level TVAAS scores were released in September.)

Gast did not immediately confirm when the state will finalize those teachers’ scores with corrected student rosters. The state sent letters to districts last week informing them of the error and at least one Memphis teacher was told she had more than 80 of her 120 students missing from her score.

In the past, the process for matching students to the right teachers began at the end of the year, “which does not leave much room for adjustments in the case of unexpected delays,” Gast said in an email. The state had already planned to open the process earlier this year. Teachers can begin to verify their rosters next week, she said.