Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy
The state should ensure that teachers receive feedback about their performance and should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Evaluation Feedback: Arizona requires that teachers receive copies of their evaluations within five days after the evaluation has been completed. A conference then must be held between the teacher and the evaluator.
Professional Development: Arizona requires the evaluator or board designee to "provide professional development opportunities to the certificated teacher to improve performance."
Improvement Plans: Arizona requires that the evaluator or other board designee "shall confer with the teacher to make specific recommendations as to areas of improvement in the teacher's performance," following review of a teacher's evaluation. The state also requires "performance improvement plans for teachers designated in the lowest performance classification."
Evaluation Rating Categories: Arizona requires that the following four performance classifications are used: highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective.
Arizona Revised Statute 15-537 C, E and H Framework for 2016-17: https://cms.azed.gov/home/GetDocumentFile?id=57ed9958aadebe0bd08a76fa
Ensure that teachers receiving less-than-effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan.
Arizona should strengthen its policy and require an improvement plan for any teacher whose performance is in need of improvement, not just those in the lowest performance category.
Arizona recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
7D: Linking Evaluation to Professional Growth
Professional development should be connected to needs identified through teacher evaluations. The goal of teacher evaluation systems should be not just to identify highly effective teachers and those who underperform but to help all teachers improve. Even highly effective teachers may have areas where they can continue to grow and develop their knowledge and skills. Rigorous evaluations should provide actionable feedback on teachers' strengths and weaknesses that can form the basis of professional development activities. Too often professional development is random rather than targeted to the identified needs of individual teachers. Failure to make the connection between evaluations and professional development squanders the likelihood that professional development will be meaningful.
Many states are only explicit about tying professional development plans to evaluation results if the evaluation results are bad. Good evaluations with meaningful feedback should be useful to all teachers, and if done right should help design professional development plans for all teachers—not just those who receive poor ratings.
To further increase the utility and validity of evaluation systems, states should require that evaluation instruments differentiate among various levels of teacher performance rather than only giving binary satisfactory/unsatisfactory ratings. Binary rating systems often offer little meaning because virtually all teachers receive satisfactory ratings. More rating categories allow for more nuanced distinctions between levels of teacher performance.