Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.
Commendably, all teachers in New York must be evaluated annually.
Multiple observations are required, but the state's policy does not offer guidance as to when these should occur for new teachers.
New York DOE Commissioner's Regulations Part 100.2(o)
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. New York 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.
New York recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that while providing rigorous standards for teacher evaluation, it also recognizes the unique characteristics and capacity of the nearly 700 school districts that range in size from just a few students to more than one million students, and that each new teacher enters the classroom with different knowledge, skills and abilities (new to the field, new to the state, career changers, etc.). New York also noted that it requires mentoring for new teachers. In general, effective instructional leaders provide regular feedback to all teachers and are able to identify teachers, regardless of years of experience, who may require additional support and observation. The state added that it has invested significantly in professional development for teachers and leaders, and it will continue to foster a deep understanding of instruction so that these types of decisions regarding timing of observations and support are made intentionally.
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.