Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Hawaii

2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


The state should articulate consequences for teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations, including specifying that teachers with multiple unsatisfactory evaluations should be eligible for dismissal.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Hawaii results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/HI-Unsatisfactory-Evaluations-10

Analysis of Hawaii's policies

Hawaii requires that a teacher who receives an overall unsatisfactory rating be dismissed; however, teacher evaluations are required only every five years. If a tenured teacher receives a "marginal" evaluation rating, he or she is placed on an annual evaluation cycle.


Recommendations for Hawaii

Require that all teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations be placed on improvement plans.
Although Hawaii has a strategy for exiting ineffective teachers, the state may want to reconsider its aggressive policy and instead require that all teachers who receive a single unsatisfactory evaluation be placed on an improvement plan and given sufficient time to address their deficiencies. In addition, the intent of this policy—to dismiss ineffective teachers—may be undermined by the state's evaluation policy (see Goal 3-B). 

State response to our analysis

Hawaii was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state also asserted that although tenured teachers are evaluated once every five years, a tenured teacher exhibiting performance deficiencies can be formally placed on an annual evaluation cycle and required to improve their performance to a satisfactory level within that year. The state noted that should the tenured teacher fail to improve within that year, he or she would be formally evaluated again the following school year and could be terminated if found to be "unsatisfactory" in that school year.  

Last word

The state's policy does not address consequences for teachers who receive more than one marginal evaluation, aside from the fact that they will be annually evaluated. Thus, teachers could be continuously employed with marginal ratings year after year without having to improve (i.e., achieve a "satisfactory" rating). The state is encouraged to take its policy a step further, providing improvement plans for teachers who receive both unsatisfactory and marginal evaluation ratings, and making dismissal a consequence of two unsatisfactory ratings or for consecutive marginal ratings.

How we graded

Negative evaluations should have meaningful consequences.

Teacher evaluations are too often treated as mere formalities rather than as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers to 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. Accordingly, states should articulate the consequences of negative evaluations. First, teachers that receive a negative evaluation should be placed on improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should list noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies and describe how progress will be measured. While teachers that receive negative evaluations should receive support and additional training, opportunities to improve should not be unlimited. States should articulate policies wherein two negative evaluations within five years are sufficient justification for dismissal.

Employment status should not determine the consequences of a negative evaluation.

Differentiating consequences of a negative evaluation based on whether a teacher has probationary or nonprobationary status puts the interests of adults before those of students. Ideally, weaknesses and deficiencies would be identified and corrected during the probationary period; if the deficiencies were found to be insurmountable, the teacher would not be awarded permanent status. However, in the absence of meaningful tenure processes based on teacher effectiveness, limiting significant consequences to the probationary period is insufficient. Any teacher who receives a negative evaluation, regardless of employment status, should be placed on an improvement plan, and any teacher who receives multiple negative evaluations, regardless of employment status, should be eligible for dismissal.

Research rationale

To review the process and types of personnel evaluations observed in other job sectors, including the problems inherent to some evaluation systems see, for example, Gliddon, David (October 2004). Effective Performance Management Systems, Current Criticisms and New Ideas for Employee Evaluation in Performance Improvement 43(9), 27-36.