Eye on Education

How Ohio’s New Teacher Evaluations Will Change Student Teaching

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

Kelsey Berryman says she wishes she could spend more time in the classroom before graduating in May.

Ohio’s educators have been nervously watching the development of a new way to evaluate teachers.

They’re nervous because half of their evaluations will be based on student test scores. Officials hope the higher stakes will improve teaching performance.

But there could be ripple effects, like big changes in the way student teachers get classroom experience.

The new teacher evaluations kick in next fall.

“When that goes into place I will not give up my classroom for a student teacher,” says Barb Sole, an eighth grade language arts teacher at Utica Jr High School in rural central Ohio.

Sole has a student teacher now. It’s the third she’s worked with, and she says probably her last.

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

Eight grade language arts teacher Barb Sole says once the new evaluations kick in, she won't take on any more student teachers.

“Mostly because my job will be evaluated and my students’ progress will determine how I get paid and evaluated and I’m not going to leave that to somebody who’s in college and just learning how to do it,” Sole says. “I don’t want to risk it.”

Student teaching gigs vary, but they usually last about eight to 12 weeks. Student teachers spend the first and last few weeks shadowing veteran teachers. But for several weeks in the middle student teachers usually have the class all to themselves, with veteran teachers checking in on them occasionally.

Kelsey Berryman is Ms. Sole’s student teacher. The Mount Vernon Nazarene University senior has only been there for a few weeks, but students say she’s already proven helpful.

“She helps us with when we’re having trouble with work and she explains stuff really well,” says student Jenna Smith.

Berryman likes student teaching. In fact, she wishes she had more time to spend time in the classroom before graduating in May. Still, she says, she gets where teachers like Ms. Sole are coming from.

“I’m very blessed to be student teaching now than if that were to go into effect,” Berryman says.  ”I can totally understand the teachers and their thoughts on it.”

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

Utica Jr. High principal Ryan McClane says many of his teachers have expressed concerns around taking on student teachers once the new evaluations kick in.

The schools’ principal, Ryan McClane says several of his teachers have told him the same thing – once the new evaluations go into place they won’t take on student teachers.

“It’s not realistic for teachers to volunteer for someone to take their class for 7 or 8 weeks anymore the way it’s normally been done,” McClane says.

His school used to welcome several student teachers a year, usually from Mount Vernon Nazarene or Ohio State University’s campus nearby. But, he’s already told his contacts at both schools what his teachers are saying.

But concerns around the quality of student teaching are not new.

“That was a concern even before the OTES [Ohio Teacher Evaluation Standard] tests,” says Debbie Shepherd-Gregg. She oversees the student teachers at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

“It was a concern that their students wouldn’t get the best instruction possible with student teachers,” she says. “It’s just now pronounced because now it’s for an evaluation and eventually for their salary.”

Shepherd-Gregg says she’s been hearing the same thing from other schools, and she’s been having a tougher time finding schools to place her student teachers for this reason.

But she says this isn’t the end of student teaching. Just perhaps the end of student teaching as we know it.

“We’re just reassuring them,” Shepherd says. “We’re not taking the keys to their classroom away and want them to leave for 12 weeks. That we want them to be involved with the students as well as with our candidates.”

Shepherd-Gregg says many are moving towards a co-teaching model where the veteran teacher never leaves the classroom or cedes control of it to the student teacher.

State education officials say that’s not a bad idea.

“The idea is that the student teacher is learning how to do a good job because the teacher is modeling for them good practices and things of that nature,” says John Charlton with the Ohio Department of Education.

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

Students Jenna Smith and Taylor Osborne say their student teachers are a bonus to their class.

“Obviously the students are first and therefore if a student teacher is not doing a good job of educating the students then it’s the job of the teacher to step in and say ‘hey we need to make sure we’re doing this better we need to make sure we’re educating the students the way they need to be educated.’”

Charlton says if veteran teachers do their job well, student test scores shouldn’t go down, even if they take on student teachers.

“There’s no replacement for actually getting the experience of being in there by yourself and handling the situations you never had any thought about happening in that classroom,” says McClane McClane – the principal at Utica Jr. High. “But it’s better than nothing.”

McClane hopes he’ll have more success convincing his teachers to take on student teachers as long – as they get to maintain control.

Barb Sole says if that’s the case, she may be looking at more student teachers in the future after all.


  • duckmonkeyman

    It is called “The Law of Unintented Consequences” and is in Legislating 101. Perhaps the Republicans should return to school for a refresher.

    Charlton’s comments demonstrate how Republicans seek to destroy public schools – set up the teachers with intrusive, restrictive, and unrealistic rules so that they fail. Make sure teachers are evaluated on flawed measures outside their control and throw in some demonizing with words like “thugs” and “lazy” while reducing pay to minimum wage. Then, blame the failure on “teachers not doing their job” so that private interests can appropriate public funds. Wake up, Ohio.

    No teacher with any savy is going to now risk their job on an altruistic notion of hosting a student teacher. We are already seeing the Republicans plan of stack ranking teachers and “fire at will” destroying years of teamwork and collaboration with a return to teaching silos.

  • greg soper

    Looks like there will be a teacher shortage and most college kids will never complete their requirements. Nice job legislature!

  • http://www.resultsonlylearning.com Mark Barnes

    This is an absurd fear, brought on by a ridiculous law. OTES can be paralyzing to effective teaching and learning, but the notion that veteran teachers should stop taking interns is ill-founded. Good teachers, who understand how to prepare student teachers, should not fear that the intern will not prepare the students for standardized tests. Student teachers have been prepared to teach and to pass a rigorous licensure test. They will know their content — in many cases better than the veterans.

    The bigger fear is being forced to teach like automatons, because the OTES guidelines require robotic performance in the classroom. This is the real story that should be investigated.

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