Professional Development

2011 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

2011 Goals for Professional Development

The state should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations.

Best practices

Ten states meet this goal, and although NCTQ has not singled out one state's policies for "best practice" honors, it additionally commends Louisiana for clearly articulating that the feedback provided to a teacher in a post-observation conference must include a discussion of a teacher's strengths and weaknesses.

Best practice 0

States

Meets goal 10

States

Nearly meets goal 7

States

Meets goal in part 10

States

Meets a small part of goal 12

States

Does not meet goal 12

States

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

2011
Figure details

Yes. State requires that teachers receive formal, substantive feedback. : AR, CT, DE, GA, HI, IL, KY, LA, MA, MI, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NM, NY, OR, RI, SC, TN, TX, WA, WV, WY

No. State does not require formal, substantive feedback; however, teachers receive copies of their evaluations.: AK, AZ, CA, CO, FL, IN, KS, MD, NV, OH, OK

No. State does not require formal, substantive feedback.: AL, DC, IA, ID, ME, MT, ND, NE, NH, SD, VA, VT, WI

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

2011
Figure details

Yes. State requires that evaluations inform professional development for all teachers.: AR, CT, DE, FL, ID, LA, MI, MN, MO, NC, RI, SC, WY

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

No. State does not require that evaluations inform professional development.: AK, AL, AZ, CA, DC, HI, IA, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MS, MT, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV

How we graded

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.  

Research rationale

For evidence of the benefits of feedback from evaluation systems, and the potential for professional development surrounding that feedback, see T. Kane et al, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next. Vol 11, No. 3 (2011); E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." National Bureau of Economic Research (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, "Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study: Findings After the Second Year of Implementation." Institute of Education Sciences (2011).

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