Strong Teacher Evaluation Systems Go Hand-in-Hand With Improved Teacher Quality

Analysis from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) finds tangible evidence that teacher evaluation systems, when implemented well, are coinciding with real and measurable benefits for students and teachers alike.

The past decade has been marked by rapid changes in teacher evaluations. While many districts and states announced their intention to install better systems, they faced political and structural challenges. The districts and states highlighted here, however, have surmounted these challenges to implement successful teacher evaluation systems that are yielding substantial benefits.  

“Our analysis suggests that moving forward with teacher evaluation systems presents students and teachers with a huge opportunity,” commented Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality.  

In Making a Difference: Six Places Where Teacher Evaluation Systems are Getting Results, NCTQ examines evidence of the impact of teacher evaluation in six places (four districts and two states) that have stayed the course in developing and implementing improved teacher evaluation systems: Dallas Independent School District, Denver Public Schools, District of Columbia Public Schools, Newark Public Schools, New Mexico, and Tennessee.  

These six evaluation systems have achieved a more meaningful and realistic measure of the distribution of teacher talent than such systems have done historically, when virtually all teachers received the same rating. For example, New Mexico’s teachers earn evaluation ratings that are widely -distributed across its evaluation rating categories, with nearly 30 percent of teachers earning ratings below effective in recent years . This enables New Mexico to differentiate the supports that are made available to teachers to improve their practice.  

To achieve the level of differentiation that these six systems have, a number of factors appear necessary. Each of them annually evaluates all teachers using both objective and subjective measures, as opposed to exempting large numbers of teachers from yearly evaluation, only using subjective measures, or not giving significant weight to student learning. Each employs at least three rating categories, with some using as many as five to seven. Each also ties the professional development a teacher should pursue to her evaluation results, as opposed to giving teachers open-ended choices not directly targeted toward their professional needs.  

Perhaps most significantly, each of these six systems to some degree links a teacher’s evaluation results to opportunities to earn additional compensation.

To access the report, see https://www.nctq.org/publications/Making-a-Difference

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