Professional Development: Georgia

2011 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Professional Development: Georgia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/GA-Professional-Development-9

Analysis of Georgia's policies

Georgia requires that teachers receive feedback during their annual evaluation conference on their performance. In addition, the state specifies that professional development activities for teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations must be aligned with findings from teacher evaluations.

Citation

Recommendations for Georgia

Ensure that professional development is aligned with findings from teachers' evaluations.
While Georgia has taken steps to ensure that teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations receive coordinated professional development based on these findings, the state should strengthen this policy by requiring that all teachers receive professional development that is aligned with their evaluation results.

State response to our analysis

Georgia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that professional development is also determined through the completion of the CLASS Keys Self-Assessment and Professional Growth Plan. At the beginning of each school year, teachers complete the Self-Assessment to reflect upon previous and current performance on the CLASS Keys standards. After completing the Self-Assessment, the teacher determines areas of growth and includes 1-2 standards on his or her Professional Growth Plan. Also included in the PGP are professional development goals selected by the building administrator based on observations and evaluations as well as any professional development determined by the local district. The final PGP is then approved by the building administrator and put into action by the teacher.

In addition, professional development is determined at the discretion of the local system because Georgia is local control. While opportunities for professional development can be suggested, each system determines and provides the professional development necessary for its teachers.

Last word

Nothing in NCTQ's recommendation suggests that states should dictate the content of the professional development offered, just that the state should require that it is aligned with evaluation results.

How we graded

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.  

Research rationale

For evidence of the benefits of feedback from evaluation systems, and the potential for professional development surrounding that feedback, see T. Kane et al, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next. Vol 11, No. 3 (2011); E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." National Bureau of Economic Research (2011).

Much professional development, particularly those that are not aligned to specific feedback from teacher evaluations, has been found to be ineffective.  For evidence see M. Garet, "Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study: Findings After the Second Year of Implementation." Institute of Education Sciences (2011).

For additional evidence regarding best practices for professional development, see "The Deliver, Financing, and Assessment of Professional Development in Education: Pre-Service Preparation and In-Service Training." The Finance Project (2003).