Running in Place: How New Teacher Evaluations Fail to Live Up to Promises

National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a non-partisan research and policy organization dedicated to ensuring every classroom has a high quality teacher, has released a new report on the effects of recent reforms of state teacher evaluation policies on teacher effectiveness ratings.

The report examines teacher evaluation policies in the 30 states that require objective measures of student learning to be at least a significant factor in teacher evaluations. It found that, despite recent reforms, rules and guidance in most states allow teachers who do not meet student learning goals to be rated effective. As a result, these evaluations rate nearly all teachers effective or higher. The report highlights recommendations for improvement.

Over the last several years, no area of teacher policy has received more attention from states than teacher evaluations. In 2009, when TNTP published The Widget Effect, which showed how meaningless evaluation systems had become with virtually all teachers receiving the same rating of satisfactory, only 15 states required school districts to incorporate evidence of student learning into teacher evaluations. Since then, that number has skyrocketed to 40 states, with most requiring that measures of student learning be at least a “significant” factor within evaluations. In making these changes, lawmakers acknowledged that assigning a high weight to evidence of growth in student learning would improve an evaluation system’s ability to identify which teachers were effective and which were not.

Unfortunately, this policy transformation has not resulted in drastic alterations in outcomes. In effect, when it comes to teacher evaluation, states have been running in place. Despite the legislative mandates that evaluation ratings should first and foremost reflect teachers’ ability to raise student learning, data have demonstrated that evaluation results continue to look much like they did when TNTP first released its report back in 2009. As a result, it is challenging for schools to use these evaluations as the basis for key personnel decisions, such as rewarding exceptionally talented teachers or providing additional, targeted support.

To read the report, see

For links to state-by-state reviews of evaluation policy, see