Frequency of Evaluations: Hawaii

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Frequency of Evaluations: Hawaii results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Hawaii's policies

Hawaii no longer requires that all teachers receive an annual overall performance rating on a teacher evaluation. According to the 2015-2016 evaluation handbook, tenured teachers who receive a rating of effective or higher will alternate years of standard and streamlined evaluations. During the year of a streamlined evaluation, their previous year's final rating can be carried over. 

Multiple observations are not required for all teachers. Only those teachers receiving an enhanced comprehensive evaluation (for any overall marginal rating teacher and all nontenured teachers) are required to be formally observed at least twice. Standard evaluations require just one formal observation, with streamlined evaluations not requiring any. 

The first observation with feedback for nontenured teachers must take place during the first semester.


Recommendations for Hawaii

Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers.
All teachers in Hawaii should be evaluated annually, even those who consistently exceed performance standards. Rather than treated as mere formalities, these teacher evaluations should serve as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers improve and holding weak teachers accountable for poor performance. 

Base evaluations on multiple observations.
To guarantee that annual evaluations are based on an adequate collection of information, Hawaii should require multiple observations for all teachers. While it may be practical to reduce the number of observations for the highest-performing teachers, Hawaii's new policy denies effective teachers the feedback that can help them grow and excel.

State response to our analysis

Hawaii had no comment on this goal.

Research rationale

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.