The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.
Although nonprobationary teachers who earn a highly effective rating on their most recent summative evaluation—as well as those who earn an effective rating plus four satisfactory ratings on at least four of the components (including Student Improvement)—are only required to receive one announced observation a year, with a summative evaluation once every two years, the Student Improvement component is evaluated annually. All other nonprobationary teachers must receive one announced and one unannounced observations, as well as an annual summative evaluation. The first observation for a nonprobationary teacher should occur prior to January 31.
New teachers in Delaware must receive at least two announced observations and one unannounced one, with an annual summative evaluation. DPAS II suggests that the first observation occur prior to October 31, and that the second and third observations occur prior to March 31.
Although these are "suggested target dates," DPAS II guidelines articulate that "to the extent [it] suggests a time period within which any part of the process will be completed, the guide shall prevail unless the controlling bargaining agreement provides a more aggressive timeline. In such case, the collective bargaining agreement prevails."
Postobservation conferences are conducted.
Base evaluations on multiple observations.
While it may be practical to reduce the number of observations for the highest performing teachers, Delaware should require teachers with just an effective rating to have multiple observations. These teachers may otherwise be denied sufficient feedback that can help them grow and excel.
Delaware recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.