Frequency of Evaluations : Arkansas

2011 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Frequency of Evaluations : Arkansas results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/AR-Frequency-of-Evaluations--8

Analysis of Arkansas's policies

Regrettably, Arkansas does not ensure that all teachers are evaluated annually.
The state recently passed new legislation establishing its new evaluation system — the Teacher Excellence and Support System. Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, nonprobationary teachers must only have summative evaluations once every three years. During the two school years that an evaluation is not required, schools may conduct evaluations that are lesser in scope and that use portions of this framework. However, annual evaluations for veteran teachers are not mandated by the state. 

Probationary teachers must be evaluated annually. 

For all summative evaluations, both formal (announced) and informal (unannounced and/or shorter) observations are required. Post-observation conferences to discuss the evaluator's observations and presented artifacts are required after all formal observations. However, the state does not specify when these observations should occur. 


Citation

Recommendations for Arkansas

Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers.
All teachers in Arkansas should be evaluated annually. Rather than treated as mere formalities, these teacher evaluations should serve as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers improve and holding weak teachers accountable for poor performance. 

Ensure that new teachers are observed and receive feedback early in the school year.
It is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers. Arkansas should ensure that its new teachers get the support they need and that supervisors know early on which new teachers may be struggling or at risk for unacceptable levels of performance.

State response to our analysis

Arkansas was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.

How we graded

Annual evaluations are standard practice in most professional jobs.

Although there has been much progress on this front recently, about half of the states still do not mandate annual evaluations of teachers who have reached permanent or tenured status. The lack of regular evaluations is unique to the teaching profession and does little to advance the notion that teachers are professionals.

Further, teacher evaluations are too often treated as mere formalities rather than as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers improve and holding weak teachers accountable for poor performance. State policy should reflect the importance of evaluations so that teachers and principals alike take their consequences seriously.

Evaluations are especially important for new teachers.

Individuals new to a profession frequently have reduced responsibilities coupled with increased oversight. As competencies are demonstrated, new responsibilities are added and supervision decreases. Such is seldom the case for new teachers, who generally have the same classroom responsibilities as veteran teachers, including responsibility for the academic progress of their students, but may receive limited feedback on their performance. In the absence of good metrics for determining who will be an effective teacher before he or she begins to teach, it is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers.

The state should specifically require that districts observe new teachers early in the school year. This policy would help ensure that new teachers get the support they need early and that supervisors know from the beginning of the school year which new teachers (and which students) may be at risk. Subsequent observations provide important data about the teacher's ability to improve. Data from evaluations from the teacher's early years of teaching can then be used as part of the performance-based evidence to make a decision about tenure.

Research rationale

For the frequency of evaluations in government and private industry, see survey results from Hudson Employment Index's report: "Pay and Performance in America: 2005 Compensation and Benefits Report" Hudson Highlands Group (2005).

For research emphasizing the importance of evaluation and observations for new teachers in predicting future success and providing support for teachers see, D. Staiger and J. Rockoff, "Searching for Effective Teachers with Imperfect Information." The Journal of Economic Perspectives. (24:3) American Economic Association (2010).