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 was reorganized in 2017.
Evaluation Feedback: Indiana requires that a copy of the teacher's evaluation is given to the teacher within seven days of the completed evaluation and that the evaluator discuss the results with the teacher.
Professional Development: Indiana specifies that professional development activities for teachers with ineffective or improvement necessary evaluation ratings must be aligned with findings from teacher evaluations; however, there is no required link between evaluation ratings and professional development for teachers who receive effective or highly effective ratings.
Improvement Plans: Indiana requires that teachers who are rated ineffective or improvement necessary are placed on a remediation plan of not more than 90 days to correct deficiencies.
Evaluation Rating Categories: Indiana requires the following four rating categories: highly effective, effective, improvement necessary and ineffective.
Ensure that professional development is aligned with findings from teachers' evaluations.
Although Indiana 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.
Indiana noted that although its state policy does not explicitly require a link between evaluation ratings and professional development for teachers who receive effective or highly effective ratings, its policy does require a "defined timeline, process, and format for all teachers to receive meaningful feedback towards growth opportunities" and indicates that meaningful feedback must include identified strengths as well as areas for improvement.
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.