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: Maryland requires that teachers receive written evaluation reports following an evaluation.
Professional Development: Maryland's evaluation process does not specify that professional development be linked to evaluation findings.
Improvement Plans: Maryland requires that evaluation systems developed by districts include "focused professional development, resources, and a mentoring component" for teachers rated ineffective or nontenured teachers.
Evaluation Rating Categories: Maryland requires a minimum of three rating levels: highly effective, effective and ineffective.
COMAR 13A.07.09 Guidebook: http://archives.marylandpublicschools.org/tpe/TPE_Guidance_Version3_092013.pdf
Require that evaluation systems provide teachers with feedback about their performance.
Although Maryland requires teachers to receive copies of their evaluations, this only ensures that teachers will receive their ratings, not necessarily feedback on their performance. Maryland should specify that teachers should receive specific feedback on identified strengths and areas that need improvement.
Ensure that professional development is aligned with findings from teachers' evaluations.
Professional development that is not informed by evaluation results may be of little value to teachers' professional growth and the aim of increasing their effectiveness in the classroom. Maryland should make it mandatory that districts utilize teacher evaluation results in determining professional development needs and activities for all teachers. Professional development should be available to all teachers.
Maryland recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it recognizes the need to align professional learning content with findings from evaluations. As a result, it recently piloted a system to connect feedback from evaluations to recommended professional learning opportunities in Charles County Public Schools. Maryland has also provided supports to teachers and principals to assist them in aligning their professional development to teacher and student needs. The MSDE Professional Learning Program for Maryland Educators allows teachers and principals to track and guide professional learning along a continuum from the development of the SLO to the teachers evaluation. In addition, Maryland is in the process of developing an online tool for educators to evaluate their own professional learning needs (aligned to student needs) and to seek resources and professional learning aligned to those needs. The tool will allow for self-reflection and be adaptable to target the needs of instruction for specific student populations.
Maryland also noted that it requires observation reports to provide specific guidance in areas needing improvement and supports as well as a reasonable timeline to demonstrate improvement in identified areas. County superintendents must also address professional improvement of teachers.
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.