Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.
Regrettably, Ohio does not ensure that all teachers are evaluated annually.
Although the state now requires that all teachers must be evaluated at least annually, Ohio allows districts to adopt a resolution that would allow for the biennial evaluation of teachers who receive an "accomplished" rating on their most recent evaluation.
Ohio articulates that all evaluations must be comprised of at least two classroom observations, but the state does not articulate when they should occur. Districts may require only one observation for a teacher who receives a rating of accomplished on his or her most recent evaluation. Postobservation conferences are not required but are considered best practice.
A board of education may elect to evaluate a teacher receiving a rating of accomplished every three years as long as the teacher's student academic growth measure for the most recent school year for which data is available is average or higher. A board of education may elect to evaluate a teacher receiving a rating of skilled every two years as long as the teacher's student academic growth measure for the most recent school year for which data is available is average or higher. In any year in which a teacher who has not been formally evaluated as a result of having previously received a rating of accomplished or skilled, a credentialed evaluator shall conduct at least one observation of the teacher and hold at least one conference with the teacher.
Ohio Revised Code 3319.111, .112
Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers.
All teachers in Ohio should be evaluated annually, regardless of their previous evaluation rating. Rather than treated as mere formalities, these teacher evaluations should serve as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers improve and holding weak teachers accountable for poor performance. While it may be practical to reduce the number of observations for the highest performing teachers, eliminating the evaluation completely denies these teachers feedback while also suggesting that an annual evaluation is punitive in nature.
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. Ohio 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.
Ohio pointed out the code section that requires at least three formal observations of each teacher who is under consideration for nonrenewal and with whom the board has entered into a limited contract or an extended limited contract. The board may also elect to require only one formal observation of a teacher who receives a rating of accomplished on his or her most recent evaluation, provided that teacher completes a project that has been approved by the board to demonstrate continued growth and practice at the accomplished level. The state also noted the code section that requires the board to enter into a limited contract with each teacher not eligible for a continuing contract, and it added that the teacher performance rating is determined from a professional growth plan, two 30-minute observations and walkthroughs.
Further, Ohio asserted that in addition to new teachers being evaluated and receiving feedback, they are also registered in the Ohio Resident Educator Program, which provides a mentor for new teachers as well as professional support during their first years of teaching. Both the Ohio Resident Educator Program and the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System include self-assessment, formal observations, informal observations, and evidence-based documentation to define areas of refinement and reinforcement for professional growth.
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.