Teacher and Principal Evaluation 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. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Evaluation Feedback: Nebraska requires written evaluations for all teachers.
Professional Development: Nebraska does not connect professional development requirements to evaluation results.
Improvement Plans: Nebraska does require "written communication and documentation to the evaluated teacher specifying all noted deficiencies, specific means for the correction of the noted deficiency, and an adequate timeline for implementing the concrete suggestions for improvement."
Evaluation Rating Categories: Nebraska does not require more than two rating categories.
Nebraska Department of Education Title 92, Chapter 10, 007.06
Require that evaluation systems provide teachers with feedback about their performance.
Nebraska should require that evaluation systems provide teachers with adequate feedback about strengths and areas that need improvement identified in their evaluations.
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 the aim of increasing their effectiveness in the classroom. Nebraska should ensure that districts utilize teacher evaluation results in determining professional development needs and activities.
Utilize rating categories that meaningfully differentiate among various levels of teacher performance.
To ensure that the evaluation instrument accurately differentiates among levels of teacher performance, Nebraska should require districts to utilize multiple rating categories, such as highly effective, effective, needs improvement and ineffective. A binary system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.
Nebraska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that although its school system practice is much higher than minimum requirements in rule, it concedes that NCTQ's analysis is factually correct according to published rule/statute.
7D: Linking Evaluation to Professional Growth
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.
To further increase the utility and validity of evaluation systems, states should require that evaluation instruments differentiate among various levels of teacher performance rather than only giving binary satisfactory/unsatisfactory ratings. Binary rating systems often offer little meaning because virtually all teachers receive satisfactory ratings. More rating categories allow for more nuanced distinctions between levels of teacher performance.