Teacher Evaluation Policies Becoming Increasingly Rigorous

connect the dots A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality indicates that by and large, teacher evaluations are becoming more stringent. The “State of the State” report is entitled, “Connect the Dots: Using evaluations of teacher effectiveness to inform policy and practice.”

The report suggests that 35 states and DC require student achievement (often measured through standardized testing) to be a “significant” or the “most significant” factor in teacher evaluations. Only two years ago, there were only 30 states which fit that description. Those states that require student achievement to be the “most significant” factor have gone from 4 to 19 in the last four years alone.

In addition, now only ten states, Alabama, California, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Texas, and Vermont, do not require any objective measures of student achievement. Two years ago, there were a total of 28 states in that category.

In terms of annual teacher evaluations and teacher tenure, the statistics are similar. Twenty-seven states and DC require yearly evaluations, while the number was only 15 in 2009. Also in 2009, no states used evidence of teacher effectiveness as a basis for tenure decisions, but now 18 states and DC do.

The 102-page report goes on to analyze whether states are “connecting the dots,” or “using evaluation results to inform policies such as tenure, licensure advancement, professional development, compensation and teacher preparation,” which the authors see as critical to improving the teaching profession. Following are 15 major points from the report:

1. States need to connect the dots.

2. Differentiating teacher performance isn’t going to happen just because states and districts have a new evaluation rubric.

3. The Common Core has the potential to become the Achilles’ heel of performance-based teacher evaluations if states fail to be proactive about ensuring alignment.

4. There must be annual evaluations for everyone.

5. Training is a huge undertaking.

6. States and districts should use multiple evaluators or observers where possible.

7. Surveys have emerged as an important source of data and feedback on teacher performance.

8. Good measures make good evaluations.

9. States must use caution with including schoolwide measures of growth in individual teacher evaluations.

10. Nontested grades and subjects cannot be an afterthought.

11. States must develop data systems with the capacity to provide evidence of teacher effectiveness.

12. Avoid the ‘too-many-multiple-measures’ trap.

13. What’s in a name?

14. States must address the ongoing challenge of evaluating special education teachers.

15. Leadership is key.

There’s plenty more to dig into here—for instance, on a close reading you’ll see that eight states are now requiring the use of student surveys in teacher evaluations (a controversial point among teachers), with four more states explicitly allowing but not requiring their use. But above all, the report may be best used as a quick reference for those trying to figure out what teacher evaluations look like in any one particular state.

For more information, please visit: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/07/13/36teacher.h30.html