Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy
The state should ensure that teacher evaluations are well-structured to appropriately assess professional practice. This goal remained consistent between 2017 and 2019.
Observations: The District of Columbia no longer require that all teachers are observed in the classroom.
Use of surveys: The District of Columbia no longer requires surveys to be used to evaluate teachers.
Evaluator training: The District of Columbia no longer requires teacher evaluators to be trained "to ensure inter-rater reliability among evaluators."
Multiple and/or third-party observers: The District of Columbia's policy is silent on whether multiple and/or third-party observers must be used to evaluate teachers.
Require classroom observations.
The District of Columbia should require annual classroom observations of all teachers, regardless of a teacher's experience level or previous evaluation ratings.
Require student surveys.
The District of Columbia should require—or at least explicitly allow—the use of student surveys as a meaningful component of a teacher evaluation system. Student surveys provide teachers with credible information about their impact in the classroom and help identify teachers' effects on outcomes beyond standardized test scores.
Require all teacher evaluators to be both trained and certified.
The District of Columbia should require classroom evaluators to be trained to a high level of reliability through ongoing training and an explicit certification process. Doing so will help ensure that teacher evaluation systems are fairly and reliably implemented across districts and the state.
Require the use of multiple observers or third-party observers with subject-matter expertise.
The District of Columbia should require that teachers are observed multiple times by more than one observer. Research demonstrates that observations by peers and other observers with subject-matter knowledge are valid and reliable, whereas a principal's role as both instructional leader and summative judge may inhibit his or her ability to reliably serve as the sole evaluator.
The District of Columbia noted that state policy requires LEAs to report data points based on guidelines mandated under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in compliance with the equitable access initiative that ensures low-income students and minorities are not disproportionally served by out-of-field, inexperienced, and ineffective teachers. The law does not set specific requirements for the various components of the teacher evaluation system. The states allow LEA autonomy and flexibility in this area.
7B: Measures of Professional Practice
Observations serve several purposes, including to provide actionable feedback to teachers and to provide a summative rating that can be used in staffing decisions. Observations can be a rich source of information for teachers, giving them useful feedback to improve their practice.
Multiple data sources should be used in teacher evaluation, including multiple observations by more than one observer. Teacher observations conducted by principals that occur once or twice a year and consist of rating teachers on observable behaviors and characteristics have not proved valid. Research widely finds that the nature of their role as both instructional leaders and summative judges inhibits principals' ability to reliably serve as evaluators. In contrast, observations conducted by peers and other observers with subject knowledge are valid and reliable. Additionally, teacher observations are more effective when they occur in tandem with aligned professional development.
Observations are especially important for new teachers. 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. States should specifically require that new teachers receive an observation early in the school year. Early feedback may be especially essential for new teachers, given that teachers' performance in their first year is a strong predictor of their performance in later years.
Student reports of teacher quality are a unique and largely untapped source of rich data. Research finds that student input on teacher quality adds value to teacher evaluation systems. Research also finds teachers prefer evaluation systems that include student survey data. Students' first-hand reports of classroom elements (e.g., textbooks, homework, instruction), teacher-student communication, assignments, and daily classroom operations may provide teachers with credible information about their impact in the classroom, as well as serve as a tool for formative evaluation. Student perceptions of learning environments can be reliable and predictive of learning. Including student surveys in teacher evaluation systems strengthens the ability to identify teachers' effects on outcomes beyond standardized test scores. In addition, teacher evaluation systems that include student survey data, which are somewhat correlated with teachers' student growth measures, are stronger, more reliable, and more valid than those that rely solely on administrator reports and observations.