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: The District of Columbia does not require teachers to receive feedback about their performance.
Professional development: The District of Columbia does not require evaluation information to inform professional development.
Improvement plans: The District of Columbia does not require plans of improvement for teachers who earn less-than-effective ratings on their evaluations.
Evaluation rating categories: The District of Columbia does not require more than two rating categories for teacher evaluation.
Require that evaluation systems provide teachers with feedback about their performance.
The District of Columbia should require that evaluation systems provide teachers with adequate feedback about strengths and areas that need improvement identified in their evaluations.
Ensure that professional development is aligned with findings from teachers' evaluations.
Professional development that is not informed by evaluation results may be of little value to teachers' professional growth and the aim of increasing their effectiveness in the classroom. The District of Columbia should ensure that districts utilize teacher evaluation results in determining professional development needs and activities.
Ensure that teachers receiving less-than-effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan.
The District of Columbia should adopt a policy requiring that teachers who receive even one less-than-effective evaluation rating are placed on structured improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should identify noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies, and describe how and when progress will be measured.
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, the District of Columbia 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.
The District of Columbia was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis. The District of Columbia added that it only mandates policies surrounding teacher performance evaluations that are required under ESSA. Specifically, there are no federal guidelines that set requirements that teachers receive "timely and constructive feedback" in the performance evaluation process. There are no federal guidelines that set requirements that performance evaluation data be used to inform professional development offerings. There is a requirement under ESSA for districts to address overall improvement rates of ineffective teachers, especially at schools that service low-income and/or largely minority population of students. There are no federal guidelines that set requirements on the tiers in the teacher performance evaluation rating system beyond the mandated federal government equitable access reporting requirements under ESSA. District policy defers authority to the hiring districts and must allow them the autonomy and flexibility in these areas where no federal mandates exist.
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.