Frequency of Evaluations: Kentucky

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Frequency of Evaluations: Kentucky results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Kentucky's policies

Kentucky does not ensure that all teachers are evaluated annually.

Tenured teachers in Kentucky are required to receive summative evaluations just once every three years. Further, the state articulates that multiple observations are required only when observation results are ineffective. In addition to one peer observation, evaluators must conduct a minimum of three observations during the teacher's summative evaluation cycle, with at least one full classroom observation during the summative year. Postobservation conferences are required.

Nontenured teachers in Kentucky must receive annual evaluations that consist of multiple observations. Further, the state requires first-year teachers to participate in its Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP), which mandates at least three classroom observations by three members of the KTIP committee: the school principal, a resource teacher (mentor), and a teacher educator assigned by an approved teacher preparation program. Each observation is followed by a postobservation conference. Stipulations determine when these observations must take place, ensuring that the first occurs within the first half of the school year.
Recent legislation explicitly articulates that the state's new evaluation system may not require annual summative evaluations. It is not clear how this stipulation will affect KTIP. 


Recommendations for Kentucky

Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers. 
All teachers in Kentucky 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, Kentucky should require multiple observations for all teachers, even those who have nonprobationary status. While it may be practical to reduce the number of observations for the highest-performing teachers, all other teachers
not just those with an unsatisfactory rating—deserve more feedback that can help them grow and excel.

State response to our analysis

Kentucky recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that although the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) regulation does not require multiple observations for every teacher every year, many districts have chosen to include additional observations through the use of full and mini observations.

Research rationale

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.