Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.
Regrettably, Illinois does not ensure that all teachers are evaluated annually.
Nonprobationary teachers are evaluated once every two years. Those rated as either needs improvement or unsatisfactory must be evaluated at least once during the following school year. New teachers in Illinois must be evaluated annually. However, the state does not articulate when the evaluation must occur.
Also, all new teachers—and nonprobationary teachers who receive a rating of needs improvement or unsatisfactory—must be observed three times per school year, two of which must be formal observations. All other nonprobationary teachers must be observed twice during the observation cycle.
Performance Evaluation Reform Act http://www.isbe.state.il.us/PEAC/pdf/PA096-0861_SB315.pdf 23 IAC 50.110
Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers.
All teachers in Illinois should be evaluated annually. 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, Illinois 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. Illinois 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.
Illinois recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
Illinois added that although the legislation and administrative rules do not specify when the evaluations of teachers must occur, this is a process issue that is generally addressed in collective bargaining agreements and/or district evaluation plans/policies. But, for teacher evaluations for a school year to be considered for reductions in force in that year, the teacher evaluation generally must be completed no later than 75 days prior to the end of the school term in order to legally notify a teacher that they will not be re-employed the following school year. Consequently, because a pre and a post conference is required for each formal observation, it is very unlikely that teacher observations throughout the year be held up until the end of that possible cycle. It is in the best interest of all parties for the observations to be performed throughout the school year, and especially during the first three quarters of the school year.
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.