Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy
The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.
Frequency of Evaluations: Maine allows districts to determine evaluation frequency based on effectiveness level. Probationary teachers must at least be evaluated during their second year of employment. Rules for teacher evaluation in Maine specifically articulate that full evaluations leading to a summative effectiveness rating are not required on an annual basis. Full evaluations must be conducted, however, at least every three years. Teachers with ineffective summative effectiveness ratings must receive an annual summative effectiveness rating until the rating improves.
Multiple Observations: Maine requires that observation and formative feedback occur throughout the year for all teachers.
Feedback for New Teachers: Maine state policy does not include a requirement that new teachers be observed and receive feedback early in the year. The state requires a formative peer mentoring or coaching component of at least one year for new teachers, which must include at least two observations. However, there is no requirement that one of these observations must occur within the first half of the school year.
2012 Public Law Chapter 635 Rule Chapters for the Department of Education, Chapter 180 (revised 2018): https://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/05/chaps05.htm LD 692 (2015)
Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers.
All teachers in Maine should be evaluated annually. 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.
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. Maine 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 failing to meet minimum standards of performance.
Maine recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. Maine noted that it is a local control state and therefore districts determine the frequency and timeline for observation, but a minimum of two observations are required for new teachers. The state indicated that many districts provide formal induction and mentoring programs, which include observation early in the school year. In addition, the professional practice models also provides guidance for best practice. For example, the Marshall Model requires multiple shorter observations by trained evaluators throughout the year.
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.