Frequency of Evaluations: Iowa

2013 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2013). Frequency of Evaluations: Iowa results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/IA-Frequency-of-Evaluations-22

Analysis of Iowa's policies

Although all teachers are observed each year, they only receive a formal evaluation once every three years.  
The first and second year of review must be conducted by a peer group of teachers. These reviews must be conducted on an "informal" basis and must be focused on assisting each peer member in achieving goals of the professional development plan. The reviews may not be used in any determination affecting a teacher's employment status. Every third year, teachers must be evaluated by a certified evaluator. 
New teachers must have a comprehensive evaluation at the end of their second year to determine if they will be recommended for the standard license. 

Citation

Recommendations for Iowa

Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers. 

All teachers in Iowa should be evaluated annually by certified evaluators. 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, Iowa should require multiple observations for all teachers, even those who have nonprobationary status. 

Ensure that new teachers are observed and receive feedback early in the school year. 

It is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers. Iowa should ensure that its new teachers get the support they need, and that supervisors know early on which new teachers may be struggling or at risk for unacceptable levels of performance.


State response to our analysis

Iowa recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

How we graded

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.