Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
California does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
California requires local school districts to develop teacher evaluations that meet a list of criteria established by the state. California's policy states that the teacher evaluation instruments used in the districts should include, among other criteria, evidence of student progress toward district-established "standards of expected pupil achievement" and, if applicable, achievement on state-adopted criterion-referenced assessments. Criteria for the evaluation also include observations of instructional technique and maintenance of a suitable learning environment, among others.
Although California explicitly directs districts to include classroom observations as part of the evaluation, the state only recommends the use of student achievement data when applicable, a loophole that undermines the rigor of the evaluation.
California Education Code 44662
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although California recommends that local districts include actual student outcomes, its broad loophole allowing districts to determine whether these would be "applicable" weakens and undermines the rigor of the evaluation. Rather, the state should require districts to use evidence of student learning as the most significant criterion of teacher evaluations. Further, California should ensure that a teacher could not 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 California commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on 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, California 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.
California recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.