Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Arkansas

2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should articulate consequences for teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations, including specifying that teachers with multiple unsatisfactory evaluations should be eligible for dismissal.

Meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Arkansas results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/AR-Unsatisfactory-Evaluations-10

Analysis of Arkansas's policies

In Arkansas, new legislation requires that a teacher be placed "in intensive support status" if the teacher receives an "unsatisfactory" rating in "any one entire teacher evaluation category" in the evaluation framework. A teacher could also be placed on intensive support status "if the teacher has a rating of "unsatisfactory" or "basic" in a majority of descriptors within a teacher evaluation category.

Teachers can remain in intensive support status for two consecutive semesters.  However, the evaluator can extend the status for an additional two semesters upon seeing significant improvement in the goals and tasks assigned—which should correlate to the teacher's professional learning plan and "evidence-based research concerning the evaluation category that forms the basis for the intensive support status."

At the end of the time frame allotted for support, if the teacher has not met the goals and completed the tasks required, "the superintendent shall recommend termination or nonrenewal of the teacher's contract."

Unfortunately, Arkansas' effort to make unsatisfactory evaluations grounds for non-retention does not carry over to the state's dismissal policy (see Goal 5-C). 

Citation

Recommendations for Arkansas

State response to our analysis

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

How we graded

Negative evaluations should have meaningful consequences.

Teacher evaluations are too often treated as mere formalities rather than as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers to 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. Accordingly, states should articulate the consequences of negative evaluations. First, teachers that receive a negative evaluation should be placed on improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should list noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies and describe how progress will be measured. While teachers that receive negative evaluations should receive support and additional training, opportunities to improve should not be unlimited. States should articulate policies wherein two negative evaluations within five years are sufficient justification for dismissal.

Employment status should not determine the consequences of a negative evaluation.

Differentiating consequences of a negative evaluation based on whether a teacher has probationary or nonprobationary status puts the interests of adults before those of students. Ideally, weaknesses and deficiencies would be identified and corrected during the probationary period; if the deficiencies were found to be insurmountable, the teacher would not be awarded permanent status. However, in the absence of meaningful tenure processes based on teacher effectiveness, limiting significant consequences to the probationary period is insufficient. Any teacher who receives a negative evaluation, regardless of employment status, should be placed on an improvement plan, and any teacher who receives multiple negative evaluations, regardless of employment status, should be eligible for dismissal.

Research rationale

To review the process and types of personnel evaluations observed in other job sectors, including the problems inherent to some evaluation systems see, for example, Gliddon, David (October 2004). Effective Performance Management Systems, Current Criticisms and New Ideas for Employee Evaluation in Performance Improvement 43(9), 27-36.