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 remained consistent between 2017 and 2019.
Evaluation feedback: Florida requires that teachers receive written copies of their evaluations "no later than ten days after the evaluation takes place," and that "the evaluator must discuss the written evaluation report of assessment with the employee."
Professional development: Florida requires that teacher evaluations are used when identifying professional development.
Improvement plans: Florida requires that teachers rated unsatisfactory are placed on "performance probation" for 90 days. During that time, the teacher "must be provided assistance and in-service training opportunities to help correct the noted performance deficiencies."
Evaluation rating categories: Florida requires that the summative evaluation rating is based on four performance ratings: highly effective, effective, needs improvement (or for new teachers who need improvement, developing) and unsatisfactory.
Florida Statute 1012.34
Ensure that teachers receiving less-than-effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan.
Florida 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.
Florida 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.