Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy
The state should ensure that teachers receive feedback about their performance and should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations. This goal remained consistent between 2017 and 2019.
Evaluation Feedback: Illinois requires that a copy of the evaluation is included in the teacher's personnel file and that a copy is given to the teacher. In addition, the evaluation plan must include the specification of the teacher's strengths and weaknesses and supporting reasons for the comments made. Evaluators are also instructed to give feedback after each formal observation in writing.
Professional Development: Illinois requires that professional development activities for teachers with needs improvement or unsatisfactory evaluations are aligned with findings from teacher evaluations. However, Illinois does not require that all teachers receive professional development linked to evaluation results.
Improvement Plans: Illinois requires that teachers rated unsatisfactory are placed on 90-day remediation plans.
Evaluation Rating Categories: Illinois requires the following four performance categories: excellent, proficient, needs improvement and unsatisfactory.
105 ILCS 5/24A-5 23 Illinois Administrative Code Section 50.120
Ensure that professional development is
aligned with findings from teachers' evaluations.
Professional development that is not informed by evaluation results may be of little value to teachers' professional growth and the aim of increasing their effectiveness in the classroom. Illinois should ensure that districts utilize teacher evaluation results in determining professional development needs and activities for all teachers not just those rated needs improvement or unsatisfactory.
Ensure that teachers receiving less-than-effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan.
Illinois should strengthen its policy and require an improvement plan for any teacher whose performance is in need of improvement, not just those in the lowest performance category.
Illinois recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
7D: Linking Evaluation to Professional Growth
Professional development should be connected to needs identified through teacher evaluations. The goal of teacher evaluation systems should be not just to identify highly effective teachers and those who underperform but to help all teachers improve. Even highly effective teachers may have areas where they can continue to grow and develop their knowledge and skills. Rigorous evaluations should provide actionable feedback on teachers' strengths and weaknesses that can form the basis of professional development activities. Too often professional development is random rather than targeted to the identified needs of individual teachers. Failure to make the connection between evaluations and professional development squanders the likelihood that professional development will be meaningful.
Many states are only explicit about tying professional development plans to evaluation results if the evaluation results are bad. Good evaluations with meaningful feedback should be useful to all teachers, and if done right should help design professional development plans for all teachers—not just those who receive poor ratings.
To further increase the utility and validity of evaluation systems, states should require that evaluation instruments differentiate among various levels of teacher performance rather than only giving binary satisfactory/unsatisfactory ratings. Binary rating systems often offer little meaning because virtually all teachers receive satisfactory ratings. More rating categories allow for more nuanced distinctions between levels of teacher performance.