The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.
Although Minnesota's statute specifically articulates an annual evaluation requirement, it also speaks to a three-year professional review cycle that includes the following: an individual growth and development plan, a peer review process, the opportunity to participate in a professional learning community and at least one summative evaluation performed by a qualified and trained evaluator. It is, therefore, unclear whether what occurs in the years without a summative evaluation will result in an adequate review of teacher performance.
Classroom observations are required; however, it does not appear they are guaranteed to occur on an annual basis for veteran teachers.
New teachers must be evaluated at least three times a year, and the first evaluation must occur within the first 90 days of teaching services.
Minnesota Statute 122A.40
Ensure annual review of teacher performance.
Minnesota should clarify its requirements regarding the three-year professional review cycle to ensure that a tenured teacher's performance is adequately reviewed, especially for those years when a summative evaluation is not required.
Base evaluations on multiple observations.
To guarantee that annual evaluations are based on an adequate collection of information, Minnesota should require multiple observations for all teachers, even those who have nonprobationary status.
Minnesota declined to respond to NCTQ's analyses.
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.