Evaluation of Effectiveness: Illinois

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2013). Evaluation of Effectiveness: Illinois results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/IL-Evaluation-of-Effectiveness-22

Analysis of Illinois's policies

Although the state requires student performance data to be a factor, Illinois does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations. Districts develop evaluation systems based on criteria set forth by the state, or they can choose to use all or a portion of the state's model, the Model Teacher Evaluation System. 
By the 2016-2017 school year, student achievement must be a "significant" factor in teacher evaluations. Illinois has defined "significant" as at least 30 percent of the performance evaluation rating assigned. Further, joint committees formed by school districts must agree on the student growth criteria within 180 days, or a district must default to the state model, which requires student growth to count for 50 percent. 
For each category of teacher, districts must include the use of at least one Type I (statewide or beyond) or Type II (districtwide) assessment and at least one Type III (aligned with course curriculum) assessment, along with a measurement model to assess student growth on these assessments. SLOs are one option districts can choose as a measurement model. Teachers without Type I or Type II assessments must use two Type III assessments. Examples include teacher-created assessments and student work samples or portfolios. 
The following four performance categories must be used: excellent, proficient, needs improvement and unsatisfactory. 
Classroom observations are required. 


Recommendations for Illinois

Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation. 
Illinois's requirement falls short by failing to require that evidence of student learning be the most significant criterion. The state 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. This can be accomplished by requiring objective evidence to count for at least half of the evaluation score or through other scoring mechanisms, such as a matrix, that ensure that nothing affects the overall score more. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom. 

Ensure that evaluations also include classroom observations that specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Illinois 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.

State response to our analysis

Illinois was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

In a subsequent response, Illinois indicated that, contrary to the recommendations for this goal, the state does require that the evaluation of teacher practice be based upon the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards. Per PERA Administrative Rules, the school district is required to use an instructional framework that is based on research regarding effective instruction, addresses at least planning, instructional delivery, and classroom management, and aligns to the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards. The framework shall align to the roles and responsibilities of each teacher who is being evaluated and contain a rubric that aligns to the instructional framework being used. The teacher evaluation plan must, by statute, consider the teacher?s attendance and competency in the subject matter taught, as well as specify the teacher?s strengths and weaknesses and the reasons for identifying the areas as such.  The Performance Evaluation Advisory Council has recommended the best tool to align to this is the Danielson Framework for Teaching. 

Research rationale

Teachers should be judged primarily by their impact on students.

While many factors should be considered in formally evaluating a teacher, nothing is more important than effectiveness in the classroom. Unfortunately, districts have used many evaluation instruments, including some mandated by states that are structured, so that teachers can earn a satisfactory rating without any evidence that they are sufficiently advancing student learning in the classroom. It is often enough that teachers appear to be trying, not that they are necessarily succeeding.

Many evaluation instruments give as much weight, or more, to factors that lack any direct correlation with student performance—for example, taking professional development courses, assuming extra duties such as sponsoring a club or mentoring and getting along well with colleagues. Some instruments hesitate to hold teachers accountable for student progress. Teacher evaluation instruments should include factors that combine both human judgment and objective measures of student learning.

Evaluation of Effectiveness: Supporting Research

Reports strongly suggest that most current teacher evaluations are largely a meaningless process, failing to identify the strongest and weakest teachers. The New Teacher Project's report, "Hiring, Assignment, and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools", July 2007 at: http://www.tntp.org/files/TNTPAnalysis-Chicago.pdf, found that the CPS teacher performance evaluation system at that time did not distinguish strong performers and was ineffective at identifying poor performers and dismissing them from Chicago schools. See also Lars Lefgren and Brian Jacobs, "When Principals Rate Teachers," Education Next, Volume 6, No. 2, Spring 2006, pp.59-69. Similar findings were reported for a larger sample in The New Teacher Project's The Widget Effect (2009) at: http://widgeteffect.org/.  See also MET Project (2010). Learning about teaching: Initial findings from the measures of effective teaching project. Seattle, WA: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A Pacific Research Institute study found that in California, between 1990 and 1999, only 227 teacher dismissal cases reached the final phase of termination hearings. The authors write: "If all these cases occurred in one year, it would represent one-tenth of 1 percent of tenured teachers in the state. Yet, this number was spread out over an entire decade." In Los Angeles alone, over the same time period, only one teacher went through the dismissal process from start to finish. See Pamela A. Riley, et al., "Contract for Failure," Pacific Research Institute (2002).

That the vast majority of districts have no teachers deserving of an unsatisfactory rating does not seem to correlate with our knowledge of most professions that routinely have individuals in them who are not well suited to the job. Nor do these teacher ratings seem to correlate with school performance, suggesting teacher evaluations are not a meaningful measure of teacher effectiveness. For more information on the reliability of many evaluation systems, particularly the binary systems used by the vast majority of school districts, see S. Glazerman, D. Goldhaber, S. Loeb, S. Raudenbush, D. Staiger, and G. Whitehurst, "Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added." The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality, 2010. 

There is growing evidence suggesting that standards-based teacher evaluations that include multiple measures of teacher effectiveness—both objective and subjective measures—correlate with teacher improvement and student achievement. For example see T. Kane, E. Taylor, J. Tyler, and A. Wooten, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next, Volume 11, No. 3, Summer 2011, pp.55-60; E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." NBER Working Paper No. 16877, March 2011; as well as H. Heneman III, A. Milanowski, S. Kimball, and A. Odden, "CPRE Policy Brief: Standards-based Teacher Evaluation as a Foundation for Knowledge- and Skill-based Pay," Consortium for Policy Research, March 2006.