The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Alabama does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
As of August 2011, all teachers in Alabama are required to be evaluated under the state's new EDUCATEAlabama system. Regrettably, objective evidence of student learning is not the preponderant criterion of these teacher evaluations.
The state requires at least two observations and provides "a compilation of observable definition items, indicators and standards," which is available to both teachers and evaluators and details the behaviors and practices the observer will be looking for.
In May 2010, Alabama voted to begin a study that could eventually lead to the use of student test scores and other objective measures of student achievement as the main ways to evaluate teacher effectiveness. The resolution asked three education groups to define teacher effectiveness and determine how to measure it fairly and effectively, perhaps by using student test scores. However, there is no indication from the state whether the results of this study are available or if Alabama plans to move forward with incorporating objective measures of student achievement into its teacher evaluations.
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Alabama should require that evidence of student learning be the most significant criterion in its new teacher evaluation system. Further, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found to be ineffective in the classroom.
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, Alabama 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. Further, if the state intends its four indicator rating levels—emerging, applying, integrating and innovating—to also represent the overall ratings, these categories are inadequate due to their inability to differentiate teacher performance, especially for a veteran teacher that objective and/or subjective data suggest is ineffective.
Alabama recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.