Professional Development: Illinois

2011 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Professional Development: Illinois results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/IL-Professional-Development-9

Analysis of Illinois's policies

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. The state also specifies that professional development activities for teachers with "needs improvement" or "unsatisfactory evaluations" must be aligned with findings from teacher evaluations.

Citation

Recommendations for Illinois

Ensure that professional development is aligned with findings from teachers' evaluations.
While Illinois has taken steps to ensure that teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations receive coordinated professional development based on these findings, the state should strengthen this policy by requiring that all teachers receive professional development that is aligned with their evaluation results.

State response to our analysis

Illinois recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it will need to develop this as it moves forward with its evaluation system.

How we graded

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.  

Research rationale

For evidence of the benefits of feedback from evaluation systems, and the potential for professional development surrounding that feedback, see T. Kane et al, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next. Vol 11, No. 3 (2011); E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." National Bureau of Economic Research (2011).

Much professional development, particularly those that are not aligned to specific feedback from teacher evaluations, has been found to be ineffective.  For evidence see M. Garet, "Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study: Findings After the Second Year of Implementation." Institute of Education Sciences (2011).

For additional evidence regarding best practices for professional development, see "The Deliver, Financing, and Assessment of Professional Development in Education: Pre-Service Preparation and In-Service Training." The Finance Project (2003).