Frequency of Evaluations: Arizona

2015 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Frequency of Evaluations: Arizona results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/AZ-Frequency-of-Evaluations-71

Analysis of Arizona's policies

All teachers in Arizona are evaluated annually. 

Teachers must be observed at least twice a year, and observation must be a complete and uninterrupted lesson. First and last observations must be separated by at least 60 calendar days, with written observation results provided within 10 business days.

However, the board may waive the second observation for a tenured teacher whose performance on the first observation places him or her in one of the two highest-performance classifications. That teacher may request a second observation. 

Citation

Recommendations for Arizona

Base evaluations on multiple observations. 
To guarantee that annual evaluations are based on an adequate collection of information, Arizona should require multiple observations for all teachers. While it may be practical to reduce the number of observations for the highest-performing teachers, Arizona's requirement permits teachers with just an effective rating to have only one observation, denying these teachers feedback that can help them grow and excel.

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. Arizona 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. As evaluation instruments become more data driven, it may not be feasible to issue a formal evaluation rating until applicable student data are available later in the year.

State response to our analysis

Arizona responded that it does not have tenure but rather continuing and noncontinuing teachers. All noncontinuing (beginning) teachers are required to be observed twice per year, 60 calendar days apart, which ensures feedback early in the school year.

Last word

To ensure feedback early in the school year for new teachers, Arizona should articulate a deadline date for the first observation, rather than just require 60 calendar days between the two observations. 

How we graded

Research rationale

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.

Frequency of Evaluations: Supporting Research
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 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." Journal of Economic Perspectives. Volume 24, No. 3, Summer 2010, pp. 97-118.