Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Alaska does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
Alaska policy indicates that local schools boards, not the state, are responsible for developing their own teacher evaluation instruments. However, the state does require that district instruments should consider "information from students, parents, community members, classroom teachers, affected collective bargaining units, and administrators."
Other than requiring classroom observations of teachers, the state provides little direction to districts about the content and the processes to be used in an evaluation. The state is silent about including objective measures, such as state standardized tests.
Alaska Statute 14.20.149
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Alaska should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
Ensure that classroom observations specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Alaska commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.
Utilize rating categories that meaningfully differentiate among various levels of teacher performance.
To ensure that the evaluation instrument accurately differentiates among levels of teacher performance, Alaska should require districts to utilize multiple rating categories, such as highly effective, effective, needs improvement and ineffective. A binary system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.
Alaska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.