The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Iowa does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
According to state policy, local districts are responsible for the development of teacher evaluations, although the state provides some guidance. The state requires that district teacher evaluations take into consideration classroom observation as well as a review of teachers' individual career development plans to determine whether teachers are meeting the state's teaching standards. Student achievement goals are tracked on teacher evaluations, but there is no indication that student achievement is the most important factor. Further, there is no guarantee that objective measures of student achievement will be used as part of teacher evaluations.
Iowa Code 284.4; 284.6; 284.8
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Iowa requires some evidence of student achievement, it is not clear whether the state requires objective evidence of student achievement for all teacher evaluations.
Iowa should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
Ensure that classroom observations specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Iowa commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.
Utilize rating categories that meaningfully differentiate among various levels of teacher performance.
To ensure that the evaluation instrument accurately differentiates among levels of teacher performance, Iowa should require districts to utilize multiple rating categories, such as highly effective, effective, needs improvement and ineffective. A binary system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.
Iowa asserted that it requires a common evaluation form for new teachers and requires Iowa Teacher Standards for all evaluations.