Evaluation of Effectiveness: North Carolina

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.

Meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Evaluation of Effectiveness: North Carolina results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/NC-Evaluation-of-Effectiveness-71

Analysis of North Carolina's policies

Commendably, North Carolina requires that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations. Teachers must be evaluated using the North Carolina Teacher Evaluation Rubric in its full or abbreviated form (for career-status teachers only). 

All teachers must be evaluated based on six standards: 1) demonstrates leadership, 2) establishes a respectful environment for diverse students, 3) knows the content, 4) facilitates learning for students, 5) reflects on practice and 6) contributes to the academic success of students. Standard Six requires that "the work of the teacher results in acceptable, measurable progress for students based on established performance expectations using appropriate data to demonstrate growth." A teacher cannot be rated effective if he or she does not meet expected student growth. 

The abbreviated evaluation includes rating a teacher only on Standards One, Four and Six. 

Three methods are used to determine student growth: 1) analysis of student work: used with courses and grades that focus on performance standards; 2) prepost test growth model: used with courses and grades where statewide assessments are in place but the EVAAS cannot be used; and 3) EVAAS (Educator Value-Added Assessment System): used with courses and grades where there are statewide assessments and a prediction model has been determined. 

Standards One through Five require the use of five ratings: distinguished, accomplished, proficient, developing and not demonstrated. Standard Six requires three: exceeds expected growth, meets expected growth, does not meet expected growth. Once a teacher has a three-year rolling average of student growth values, an overall status is determined using the following three categories: highly effective, effective and in need of improvement.

Classroom observations are required. 

The USED approved North Carolina's request to renew its flexibility waiver through the end of the 2018-2019 school year.


Recommendations for North Carolina

Connect the overall status rating to evaluation consequences. 
Although North Carolina assigns overall status ratings that categorize teachers as highly effective, effective and in need of improvement, the state does not utilize these ratings, which incorporate measures of student growth, to affect contract and dismissal decisions (see "Tenure" and "Dismissal for Poor Performance" analyses and recommendations). The state should strengthen its policy and rely on ratings that include these effectiveness ratings, rather than proficiency ones that only take into account Standards One to Five when determining which teachers should be awarded extended contracts and which should be dismissed. 

State response to our analysis

North Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. 

Research rationale

Value-added analysis connects student data to teacher data to measure achievement and performance.
Value-added models are an important tool for measuring student achievement and school effectiveness. These models measure individual students' learning gains, controlling for students' previous knowledge. They can also control for students' background characteristics. In the area of teacher quality, value-added models offer a fairer and potentially more meaningful way to evaluate a teacher's effectiveness than other methods schools use.

For example, at one time a school might have known only that its fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Jones, consistently had students who did not score at grade level on standardized assessments of reading. With value-added analysis, the school can learn that Mrs. Jones' students were reading on a third-grade level when they entered her class, and that they were above a fourth-grade performance level at the end of the school year. While not yet reaching appropriate grade level, Mrs. Jones' students had made more than a year's progress in her class. Because of value-added data, the school can see that she is an effective teacher.Teachers should be judged primarily by their impact on students.

While many factors should be considered in formally evaluating a teacher, nothing is more important than effectiveness in the classroom.
Unfortunately, districts have used many evaluation instruments, including some mandated by states, that are structured so that teachers can earn a satisfactory rating without any evidence that they are sufficiently advancing student learning in the classroom. It is often enough that teachers appear to be trying, not that they are necessarily succeeding.

Many evaluation instruments give as much weight, or more, to factors that lack any direct correlation with student performance—for example, taking professional development courses, assuming extra duties such as sponsoring a club or mentoring and getting along well with colleagues. Some instruments hesitate to hold teachers accountable for student progress. Teacher evaluation instruments should include factors that combine both human judgment and objective measures of student learning.

Evaluation of Effectiveness: Supporting Research
Reports strongly suggest that most current teacher evaluations are largely a meaningless process, failing to identify the strongest and weakest teachers. The New Teacher Project's report, "Hiring, Assignment, and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools", July 2007 at: http://www.tntp.org/files/TNTPAnalysis-Chicago.pdf, found that the CPS teacher performance evaluation system at that time did not distinguish strong performers and was ineffective at identifying poor performers and dismissing them from Chicago schools. See also Lars Lefgren and Brian Jacobs, "When Principals Rate Teachers," Education Next, Volume 6, No. 2, Spring 2006, pp.59-69. Similar findings were reported for a larger sample in The New Teacher Project's The Widget Effect (2009) at: http://widgeteffect.org/.  See also MET Project (2010). Learning about teaching: Initial findings from the measures of effective teaching project. Seattle, WA: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A Pacific Research Institute study found that in California, between 1990 and 1999, only 227 teacher dismissal cases reached the final phase of termination hearings. The authors write: "If all these cases occurred in one year, it would represent one-tenth of 1 percent of tenured teachers in the state. Yet, this number was spread out over an entire decade." In Los Angeles alone, over the same time period, only one teacher went through the dismissal process from start to finish. See Pamela A. Riley, et al., "Contract for Failure," Pacific Research Institute (2002).

That the vast majority of districts have no teachers deserving of an unsatisfactory rating does not seem to correlate with our knowledge of most professions that routinely have individuals in them who are not well suited to the job. Nor do these teacher ratings seem to correlate with school performance, suggesting teacher evaluations are not a meaningful measure of teacher effectiveness. For more information on the reliability of many evaluation systems, particularly the binary systems used by the vast majority of school districts, see S. Glazerman, D. Goldhaber, S. Loeb, S. Raudenbush, D. Staiger, and G. Whitehurst, "Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added." The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality, 2010. 

There is growing evidence suggesting that standards-based teacher evaluations that include multiple measures of teacher effectiveness—both objective and subjective measures—correlate with teacher improvement and student achievement. For example see T. Kane, E. Taylor, J. Tyler, and A. Wooten, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next, Volume 11, No. 3, Summer 2011, pp.55-60; 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; as well as H. Heneman III, A. Milanowski, S. Kimball, and A. Odden, "CPRE Policy Brief: Standards-based Teacher Evaluation as a Foundation for Knowledge- and Skill-based Pay," Consortium for Policy Research, March 2006.