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. This goal remained consistent between 2017 and 2019.
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 asserted that it requires all teachers to receive a formative or summative evaluation annually. New and probationary teachers are on evaluation plans one year or less in duration and receive a summative evaluation at the conclusion of the cycle. Veteran educators considered proficient or exemplary are on two-year evaluation plans. For these educators, "a formative evaluation takes place at the end of the first year of the two-year cycle. The educator's rating for that year shall be assumed to be the same as the previous summative rating unless evidence demonstrates a significant change in performance in which case the rating on Performance Standards may change." The requirement of formative evaluation ratings at the conclusion of the first year in a two-year evaluation plan, and the ability of an evaluator to change the ratings and the subsequent evaluation plan as required, functions as an annual evaluation. Formative evaluation ratings provided to educators on two-year plans are submitted to the state for reporting purposes along with summative evaluation ratings.
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.