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.
New York requires that local districts develop performance evaluation review plans that provide teachers with "timely and constructive feedback on all criteria evaluated." This feedback should include data on student growth and feedback as well as training on how the teacher can use this data to improve his or her instruction. New York also requires teachers rated ineffective to have teacher improvement plans. The plans are developed by the district in cooperation with the teacher. However, there is no requirement that professional development be tied to performance evaluations.
New York Department of Education, Commissioner's Regulations, Part 100.2(o) http://www.p12.nysed.gov/part100/pages/1002.html#o
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. New York should ensure that districts utilize teacher evaluation results in determining professional development needs and activities for all teachers.
New York asserted that while the language in the regulations does not specifically use the terminology "performance evaluation," the state's teacher evaluation system provides essential data that is being used to design professional development that is of value to teachers. The state indicated that several times in the Commissioner's regulations it is stated that the plan must account for "teacher capacities" and/or improve "teacher practices." Evaluation data and knowledge of the skills and abilities of teachers in relation to the standards are the most effective way to develop these plans.
New York added that under the state's annual professional performance review (APPR), all teachers and principals who are rated developing or ineffective are required to have an improvement plan that supports their professional improvement.
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.