Professional Development

2015 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

2015 Goals for Professional Development

The state should ensure that teachers receive feedback about their performance and should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations.

Best practices

Louisiana and Massachusetts require that teachers receive feedback about their performance from their evaluations and direct districts to connect professional development to teachers' identified needs. Both states also require that teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations be placed on structured improvement plans. These improvement plans include specific performance goals, a description of resources and assistance provided, as well as timelines for improvement.

Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Professional Development national results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/national/Professional-Development-72
Best practice 2

States

Meets goal 22

States

Nearly meets goal 4

States

Meets goal in part 8

States

Meets a small part of goal 8

States

Does not meet goal 7

States

Progress on this goal since 2013

  • Improved
  • Stayed the same
  • Regressed

Do states require districts to provide formal, substantive feedback to teachers?

2015
2013
Add previous year
Figure details

Yes. State requires that teachers receive formal, substantive feedback. : AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, ND, NJ, NM, NY, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, WY

No. State does not require formal, substantive feedback; however, teachers receive copies of their evaluations.: AK, MD, NV, OH, PA

No. State does not require formal, substantive feedback.: AL, IA, ID, MN, MT, NE, NH, VT

Do states require teachers with less-than-effective ratings to be placed on improvement plans?

2015
Figure details

Yes: AK, AR, AZ, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV

No : AL, CA, DC, IA, ID, KS, MT, ND, NH, NJ, NV, SD, TN, TX, VT, WY

Do states require that teacher evaluations inform teachers’ professional development?

2015
2013
Add previous year
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Yes. State requires that evaluations inform professional development for all teachers.: AR, AZ, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, MS, NC, ND, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, WV, WY

Partially. State requires that evaluations inform professional development for teachers who earn unsatisfactory evaluation ratings. : AK, IL, IN, MD, PA, TX

No. State does not require that evaluations inform professional development.: AL, CA, IA, ID, KS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NV, VT, WA, WI

How many evaluation rating categories do states’ systems require?

2015
Figure details

Fewer than three : AL, CA, MT, NE, NH, VT, WI

Three : ID, KS, MD, MN, MO, SD

Four : AK, AR, AZ, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MS, ND, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WY

Five: NC, NM, OK, TN

How we graded

Research rationale

Professional development should be connected to needs identified through teacher evaluations.
The goal of teacher evaluation systems should be not just to identify highly effective teachers and those who underperform but to help all teachers improve.  Even highly effective teachers may have areas where they can continue to grow and develop their knowledge and skills. Rigorous evaluations should provide actionable feedback on teachers' strengths and weaknesses that can form the basis of professional development activities.  Too often professional development is random rather than targeted to the identified needs of individual teachers.  Failure to make the connection between evaluations and professional development squanders the likelihood that professional development will be meaningful.

Many states are only explicit about tying professional development plans to evaluation results if the evaluation results are bad.  Good evaluations with meaningful feedback should be useful to all teachers, and if done right should help design professional development plans for all teachers—not just those who receive poor ratings. 

Professional Development: Supporting Research
For evidence of the benefits of feedback from evaluation systems, and the potential for professional development surrounding that feedback, see T. Kane, E. Taylor, J. Tyler, and A. Wooten, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next, Volume 11, No. 3, Summer 2011; E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers," NBER Working Paper No. 16877, March 2011.

Much professional development, particularly those that are not aligned to specific feedback from teacher evaluations, has been found to be ineffective.  For evidence see M. Garet, A. Wayne, F. Stancavage, J. Taylor, M. Eaton, K. Walters, M. Song, S. Brown, S. Hurlburt,  P. Zhu, S. Sepanik, F. Doolittle,  and E. Warner, "Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study: Findings After the Second Year of Implementation." Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, May 2011, NCEE 2011-4024.

For additional evidence regarding best practices for professional development, see K. Neville and C. Robinson, "The Delivery, Financing, and Assessment of Professional Development in Education: Pre-Service Preparation and In-Service Training" The Finance Project, 2003.