The data and analysis on this page is from 2019. View and download the most recent policy data and analysis on Frequency of Evaluation and Observation in Massachusetts from the State of the States 2022: Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policies report.
The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
Frequency of Evaluations: Massachusetts does not ensure that all teachers are evaluated annually. Veteran teachers who receive a rating of exemplary or proficient coupled with a moderate or high impact on student learning must only be evaluated once every two years. All other teachers, including probationary teachers, must be evaluated annually.
Multiple Observations: Massachusetts requires observations, but a required number is not specified.
Feedback for New Teachers: Massachusetts requires formative assessments, which provide feedback on performance, at midyear.
603 CMR 35.00 The 5-Step Cycle http://www.doe.mass.edu/edeval/resources/QRG-5StepCycle.pdf
Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers.
All teachers in Massachusetts should be evaluated annually, even those who score proficient or above with at least a moderate impact on student learning on the state's summative evaluation. 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, Massachusetts should require multiple observations for all teachers, even those who have nonprobationary status.
Massachusetts recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that its
Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) Model System represents the nonnegotiables
in every district, and the guidance it provides serves as best practices for local
districts to reference as they make school policy decisions. Massachusetts
recognizes the uniqueness of the state's Educator Evaluation System and the
latitude it provides school districts as they implement policy within a local
Massachusetts also noted, with regard to the frequency and duration of observations, that it has steered away from being overly prescriptive. Its regulations require "unannounced observations of practice for any duration." Brief, unannounced observations followed by feedback give educators the opportunity to receive frequent and quality feedback. For evaluators, short observations followed by brief feedback are a realistic and efficient approach relative to their capacity and workload.
NCTQ agrees that brief, unannounced observations followed by feedback can be a powerful approach to providing teachers with the feedback and support they need to improve their practice. However, Massachusetts is urged to solidify this best practice by requiring districts to require multiple observations for all teachers.
7C: Frequency of Evaluation and Observation
Observations serve several purposes, including to provide actionable feedback to teachers and to provide a summative rating that can be used in staffing decisions. Observations can be a rich source of information for teachers, giving them useful feedback to improve their practice.
Multiple data sources should be used in teacher evaluation, including multiple observations by more than one observer. Teacher observations conducted by principals that occur once or twice a year and consist of rating teachers on observable behaviors and characteristics have not proved valid. Research widely finds that the nature of their role as both instructional leaders and summative judges inhibits principals' ability to reliably serve as evaluators. In contrast, observations conducted by peers and other observers with subject knowledge are valid and reliable. Additionally, teacher observations are more effective when they occur in tandem with aligned professional development.
Observations are especially important for new teachers. 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. States should specifically require that new teachers receive an observation early in the school year. Early feedback may be especially essential for new teachers, given that teachers' performance in their first year is a strong predictor of their performance in later years.
Student reports of teacher quality are a unique and largely untapped source of rich data. Research finds that student input on teacher quality adds value to teacher evaluation systems. Research also finds teachers prefer evaluation systems that include student survey data. Students' first-hand reports of classroom elements (e.g., textbooks, homework, instruction), teacher-student communication, assignments, and daily classroom operations may provide teachers with credible information about their impact in the classroom, as well as serve as a tool for formative evaluation. Student perceptions of learning environments can be reliable and predictive of learning. Including student surveys in teacher evaluation systems strengthens the ability to identify teachers' effects on outcomes beyond standardized test scores. In addition, teacher evaluation systems that include student survey data, which are somewhat correlated with teachers' student growth measures, are stronger, more reliable, and more valid than those that rely solely on administrator reports and observations.