The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.
Tenured teachers are evaluated on a three-year cycle, at least once annually. In the first year of the cycle, both professional practice and student growth are evaluated. If highly effective or effective, then the second- and third-year evaluations use the professional practice rating from the previous year and student growth is based on the most recent data. A teacher may request a new review of professional practice along with student growth. Evaluation of a teacher's professional practice must be based on at least two observations.
Nontenured teachers and those rated ineffective must be evaluated annually on student growth and professional practice.
The regulations pertaining to these requirements are set to expire on September 30, 2014.
At the time of sunset, it appears that frequency may revert to the other regulation still on the books, which only requires teachers holding advanced degrees to be evaluated twice during the five-year validity of their license.
- Observations must be conducted by certificated individuals who have completed training that "includes identification of teaching behaviors that result in student growth."
- At least 2 observations per year.
Base evaluations on multiple observations.
To guarantee that annual evaluations are based on an adequate collection of information, Maryland should require multiple observations for all teachers, even those who have nonprobationary status.
Ensure that new teachers are observed and receive feedback early in the school year.
It is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers. Maryland should ensure that its new teachers get the support they need, and that supervisors know early on which new teachers may be struggling or at risk for unacceptable levels of performance.
Maryland asserted that it requires a mentoring relationship for new teachers for the first three years before tenure is awarded, and that additional support is required for teachers who are struggling in the classroom. The state added that feedback from mentors and evaluators is part of the observation process. Twenty-three public school systems are using the Danielson Framework, which provides teachers with a multilevel rubric and describes effective teaching behaviors, and one school system has developed its own observation tool. All observation tools and evaluation systems must be approved by the state.
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.