Retaining Effective Teachers 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.
Missouri does not have state-level policy that specifies the type and frequency of feedback teachers receive based on their evaluations or that connects professional development to teachers' evaluations. Missouri's State Board recently adopted the Essential Principles of Effective Evaluation framework. By school year 2014-2015, districts must either adopt the model or develop one of their own that is consistent with this framework.
The state's framework requires "regular and meaningful feedback to all educators for the improvement of practice." For teachers consistently rated less than effective, "educators receive targeted interventions and support to encourage ongoing formative development."
Essential Principles of Effective Evaluation Framework http://dese.mo.gov/eq/ees.htm 5 CSR 20-400.375 Teacher Evaluation Model http://dese.mo.gov/eq/documents/eq-ees-teacher-evaluation.pdf
Require that evaluation systems provide teachers with feedback about their performance. In order to increase their effectiveness in the classroom, teachers need to receive feedback on strengths and areas that need improvement identified in their evaluations. As such, Missouri should require that evaluation systems provide teachers with feedback about their classroom performance. Missouri's teacher evaluation model requires a minimum of 3 to 5 follow-up assessments to occur per growth indicator and these assessments include formal and/or informal feedback. Codifying these requirements would strengthen Missouri's evaluation system, by making them mandatory for districts, rather than optional.
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 aim of increasing their effectiveness in the classroom. Missouri's teacher evaluation model requires teacher evaluation results to directly inform individual professional development decisions. All teachers are required to develop a Professional Growth Plan. Missouri should codify these requirements, making them mandatory for districts rather than optional.
Ensure that teachers receiving less than effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan. Missouri 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 identify noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies and describe how and when progress will be measured. Missouri's teacher evaluation model requires that teachers with noted deficiencies complete an Educator Improvement Plan with their evaluator. Missouri should codify these requirements, making them mandatory for districts rather than optional.
Missouri indicated that elements of this goal are specifically addressed in the Meaningful Feedback Guidelines, which are posted on the state's Educator Evaluation webpage. The state noted that protocol for the evaluation system requires the use of an Educator Improvement Plan to address specific performance areas of concern.
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.
Professional Development: Supporting Research
For evidence of the benefits of feedback from evaluation systems, and the potential for professional development surrounding that feedback, see T. Kane, E. Taylor, J. Tyler, and A. Wooten, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next, Volume 11, No. 3, Summer 2011; E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers," NBER Working Paper No. 16877, March 2011.
Much professional development, particularly those that are not aligned to specific feedback from teacher evaluations, has been found to be ineffective. For evidence see M. Garet, A. Wayne, F. Stancavage, J. Taylor, M. Eaton, K. Walters, M. Song, S. Brown, S. Hurlburt, P. Zhu, S. Sepanik, F. Doolittle, and E. Warner, "Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study: Findings After the Second Year of Implementation." Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, May 2011, NCEE 2011-4024.
For additional evidence regarding best practices for professional development, see K. Neville and C. Robinson, "The Delivery, Financing, and Assessment of Professional Development in Education: Pre-Service Preparation and In-Service Training" The Finance Project, 2003.