The state should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations.
Arkansas requires that a teacher's summative evaluation provide "feedback that the teacher can use to improve teaching skills and student learning." In addition, the teacher's professional learning plan is required to "clearly link" professional development activities and the teacher's individual professional learning needs as identified in the evaluation.
Unfortunately, Arkansas only requires annual summative evaluations for new teachers, probationary teachers, and teachers who have recently successfully completed intensive support status. All other teachers are evaluated at least once every three years (see Goal 3-C).
Arkansas Code 6-17-2806
Provide teachers regular feedback about their performance.
Arkansas is commended for ensuring that professional development is informed by teachers' evaluations. However, there is no assurance that teachers evaluated every three years will receive feedback in the evaluation off-years that could be useful for improving their practice. Arkansas should consider requiring that all teachers are evaluated and receive feedback about their performance annually.
Arkansas asserted that building administrators work individually with teachers to complete their professional growth plans each spring. The state noted that these growth plans guide their professional development plans, which "are based on the needs of the teacher and information from evaluations help guide the professional development plans. Districts are also required to analyze student data and include professional development based on data in the ACSIP plans which are submitted to the Arkansas Department of Education for approval every year."