The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Arizona stops short of requiring that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
The state now requires the use of an evaluation framework that includes quantitative data on student academic progress. These objective data must account for between 33 percent and 50 percent of outcomes. By school year 2012-2013, districts must use this instrument for annual evaluations of all teachers.
Arizona requires districts to formulate reliable evaluation instruments that include "specific criteria for measuring effective teaching performance in each area of the teacher's classroom responsibility," as well as "an assessment of the competencies of teachers as they relate to the specific criteria for measuring teacher performance."
Further, the state also requires that evaluations include classroom observations "of the certificated teacher demonstrating teaching skills."
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Arizona's new evaluation system is moving in the right direction, it falls short by failing to require that evidence of student learning be the most significant criterion. The state should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. This can be accomplished by requiring objective evidence to count for at least half of the evaluation score or through other scoring mechanisms, such as a matrix, that ensure that nothing affects the overall score more. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
Ensure that evaluations also include classroom observations that specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Arizona commendably requires classroom observations, the state should articulate guidelines that ensure that the observations focus on effectiveness of instruction. The primary component of a classroom observation should be 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, Arizona 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.
Arizona recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that as of the 2012-2013 school year, local educational agencies (LEAs) will need to map evaluation performance to four levels—highly effective, effective, partially effective and ineffective—for reporting purposes.