BAINBRIDGE -- At a special meeting on Tuesday new North Putnam Superintendent Dan Noel presented the school board with details about Indiana's new teacher evaluation system, RISE, which has gained attention in recent months.
Although the primary controversy for the program has focused on merit-based pay increases, the board meeting mostly centered on teacher evaluation as it would apply to tenure and administrative logistics.
Specifically, Noel said, that in Indiana, "the law is, there is no tenure anymore."
Noel was referring to Public Law 90-2011.
It went into effect last fall and, among other things, helped create RISE, Indiana's model evaluation and development system, not to be confused with the RISE environmental program North Putnam and other area schools have been participating in.
At North Putnam, because the teachers are under contract for two more years, their pay scale will remain unaffected for two years.
Their evaluation, however, will begin this fall.
Noel, along with high school Assistant Principal Jason Chew, showed the board just how this change will affect the staff at North Putnam.
"Take it home and look at it, so you can understand what's going to happen," Noel suggested to the board. "You need to know the rubric."
Chew has been attending RISE classes since January and is now certified to train not only the rest of North Putnam on RISE, a process he has already begun, but also the staff of other schools.
RISE, or a similar evaluation process, will be used in nearly 80 percent of Indiana schools next year.
The introduction of the program allowed the board to see just how, when, and why their staff will be evaluated.
The RISE rubric spells out, in great detail, what is required from each teacher in dozens of different areas.
"What we've done with our observations in the past," Chew said, "One was planned, one was unplanned."
In the old system, new teachers, those in their first two years, were observed and evaluated twice per year.
Tenured teachers, usually those with more than two years of experience, were evaluated only every three years.
With RISE, every teacher, regardless of experience, is observed five times (three times for 10 minute, twice for a full period) each year.
Now new teachers and old get the same treatment.
"This is the minimum," Chew said. "It's probably going to take more than the five observations."
Noel and Chew said they anticipate it will take at least 25 hours every year to evaluate even the finest teacher -- the teachers that require no intervention.
For the instructors in need of improvement, that number will grow.
With 25 teachers in the high school, at around 30 hours to evaluate each teacher, in a 180-day school year, administrators will spend half the school year, about 90 full days, doing evaluations, related paperwork and helping the teachers improve.
Each teacher, regardless of experience level, must be observed at least five times every year.
Somewhere in each building, an instructor will be observed almost every day.
Teachers will be trained before the start of the year on how they'll be graded.
The ones who are graded out as effective or highly effective do not require any intervention.
Teachers can also grade out "improvement necessary" or "ineffective."
They become "qualifying teachers" and are placed on an improvement plan. Teachers who fail to meet the necessary improvements can be removed from the school.
"Our goal as evaluators is to find teachers' weaknesses and to help them improve on them," Chew said.
Although using RISE will take more time than the old evaluation system, there will be immediate benefits.
Teachers who are sent to workshops are graded on how well they report back with the new information they learned.
Even the most experienced teacher cannot become complacent.
Board President Debbie Sillery suggested it may add even more incentive for teachers to get graduate degrees.
There will likely be some problems at first as the administrators, the people charged with doing evaluations, adjust to their increased responsibilities, but this is part of the process.
"Everybody is going to have to have a plan and be organized," Noel said. "This is not something we can change. The state says, 'This is what you're doing if you're doing RISE.'"
RISE also has criteria for evaluating administrators -- the school corporations principals and superintendent.
Noel said he is confident in himself and his school.
"If you are a good teacher and you've been a good teacher for years," he said, "you don't have to be afraid of this."