Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Maryland

2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should articulate consequences for teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations, including specifying that teachers with multiple unsatisfactory evaluations should be eligible for dismissal.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Maryland results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MD-Unsatisfactory-Evaluations-10

Analysis of Maryland's policies

Maryland does not have a policy regarding teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations. 

Recommendations for Maryland

Require that all teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations be placed on improvement plans.
Maryland should adopt a policy requiring that teachers who receive even one unsatisfactory evaluation be placed on structured improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should list noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies and describe how and when progress will be measured.

Make eligibility for dismissal a consequence of unsatisfactory evaluations.
Teachers who receive two consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations or have two unsatisfactory evaluations within five years should be formally eligible for dismissal, regardless of whether they have tenure. Maryland should adopt a policy that ensures that teachers who receive such unsatisfactory evaluations are eligible for dismissal. 

State response to our analysis

Maryland asserted that it does have a policy regarding teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations. The state noted that current regulations allow for the dismissal of a teacher for "incompetence," which includes among its definitions for use the poor performance of teachers in the classroom. One system has tripled the number of teachers dismissed since 2008, employing regulations that already exist. 

In addition, the state said that under Section 6-202 of the Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, local superintendents can, at any time, bring charges for dismissal of a teacher for incompetence. Further, local superintendents can, at any time of renewal of the teacher's certification, rate the teacher's job performance as unsatisfactory and bring action under the employment contract.  In fact, teachers who receive two unsatisfactory evaluations are eligible for dismissal, regardless of whether or not they have tenure.

Finally, the state pointed out that under Maryland law, Section 6-301 of the Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, local superintendents must identify teacher certificates as either first class or second class.  The latter indicates less-than-satisfactory job performance. As a consequence, holders of second-class certificates do not receive "salary increases based on experience" as part of their compensation.

Last word

NCTQ can find no language in the state's citation that reflects policy stipulating that two unsatisfactory evaluations make a teacher eligible for dismissal. Section 6-202 of the state code cited does permit dismissal based on incompetence, which in effect could result in eligibility for dismissal after two unsatisfactory evaluations, but does not include the explicit definition reference by the state.  The generalized wording of the term "incompetence" provides no guarantee that this will occur, nor is there any mention in statute or regulation that a teacher should be placed on an improvement plan to address effectiveness issues after an unsatisfactory evaluation.

How we graded

Negative evaluations should have meaningful consequences.

Teacher evaluations are too often treated as mere formalities rather than as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers to 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. Accordingly, states should articulate the consequences of negative evaluations. First, teachers that receive a negative evaluation should be placed on improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should list noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies and describe how progress will be measured. While teachers that receive negative evaluations should receive support and additional training, opportunities to improve should not be unlimited. States should articulate policies wherein two negative evaluations within five years are sufficient justification for dismissal.

Employment status should not determine the consequences of a negative evaluation.

Differentiating consequences of a negative evaluation based on whether a teacher has probationary or nonprobationary status puts the interests of adults before those of students. Ideally, weaknesses and deficiencies would be identified and corrected during the probationary period; if the deficiencies were found to be insurmountable, the teacher would not be awarded permanent status. However, in the absence of meaningful tenure processes based on teacher effectiveness, limiting significant consequences to the probationary period is insufficient. Any teacher who receives a negative evaluation, regardless of employment status, should be placed on an improvement plan, and any teacher who receives multiple negative evaluations, regardless of employment status, should be eligible for dismissal.

Research rationale

To review the process and types of personnel evaluations observed in other job sectors, including the problems inherent to some evaluation systems see, for example, Gliddon, David (October 2004). Effective Performance Management Systems, Current Criticisms and New Ideas for Employee Evaluation in Performance Improvement 43(9), 27-36.