Frequency of Evaluations: North Carolina

2015 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

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

Analysis of North Carolina's policies

All teachers in North Carolina must be evaluated at least annually.

The number of observations for experienced teachers depends on their evaluation cycle. The comprehensive cycle requires three formal observations, the standard cycle requires one formal plus two formal or informal observations and the abbreviated cycle requires two formal or informal observations. 

New teachers in North Carolina must also be evaluated once a year. To gather information for this evaluation, the principal must conduct at least three formal observations, and a peer must conduct one formal observation. A postobservation conference is scheduled after each formal observation to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the teacher's performance. 

However, North Carolina does not indicate when these observations should occur.

Citation

Recommendations for North Carolina

Base evaluations on multiple observations.
To guarantee that annual evaluations are based on an adequate collection of information, North Carolina should require multiple observations—with at least one formal annual observation—for all teachers, even those who have nonprobationary status.

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. North Carolina 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 unacceptable levels of performance.

State response to our analysis

North Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also included the section pertaining to the information contained in the analysis:

All teachers who are assigned to schools that are not designated as low performing and who have not been employed for at least three consecutive years shall be observed at least three times annually by the principal or the principal's designee and at least once annually by a teacher and shall be evaluated at least once annually by a principal. All teachers who have been employed for
three or more years who are assigned to schools that are not designated as low performing shall be evaluated annually unless a local board adopts rules that allow teachers employed for three or more years to be evaluated more or less frequently.

In compliance with the Excellent Schools Act and subsequently GS 115C-333, each beginning teacher shall be observed at least three times annually by a qualified school administrator or a designee and at least once annually by a teacher, and shall be evaluated at least once annually by a qualified school administrator. Each observation must last for at least one continuous period of instructional time and must be followed by a post-conference. All persons who observe teachers must be appropriately trained. The required observations must be appropriately spaced throughout the school year. The Beginning Teacher Support Program Plan must specify the role of the beginning teacher's assigned mentor in the observations.

Last word

NCTQ pointed out the language that allows a local board to adopt policy allowing for less-than-annual evaluations. In a subsequent response, North Carolina reiterated that while state statute allows local boards to evaluate less frequently, the State Board of Education policy requires annual evaluations. There are no local districts that allow fewer than annual evaluations.

To ensure annual evaluations for all teachers, the state should consider strengthening its policy and no longer allow districts such discretion when it comes to evaluation frequency. 

How we graded

Research rationale

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.