Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Minnesota

2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


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

Meets in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Minnesota results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MN-Unsatisfactory-Evaluations-10

Analysis of Minnesota's policies

New legislation in Minnesota requires that teachers who do not meet professional teaching standards be given "support to improve through a teacher improvement process that includes established goals and time lines." Teachers are "disciplined" if they do not make adequate progress, through either "a last-chance warning, termination, discharge, nonrenewal, transfer to a different position, a leave of absence or other discipline a school administrator determines is appropriate."


Recommendations for Minnesota

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. While the state's new legislation is a step in the right direction, Minnesota should adopt a policy that ensures that teachers who receive such unsatisfactory evaluations are eligible for dismissal. 

State response to our analysis

Minnesota was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state noted that legislation that was passed on developing a teacher evaluation system includes language that requires the new system to include a mechanism for addressing ineffective teachers.  It "makes inefficiency in teaching or in managing a school grounds for terminating a teacher's employment." This language is effective for bargaining agreements ratified after July 1, 2014. 

Last word

While the state is commended for taking steps toward instituting consequences for teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations, Minnesota's new policy gives districts significant flexibility in determining what those consequences will be. The state should consider strengthening its current policy to make it clear to districts that a teacher is eligible for dismissal after two unsatisfactory evaluations. 

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.