Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Pennsylvania does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
The state requires local school districts to conduct teacher evaluations using a uniform, state-designed rating form that assesses teachers in four domains: personality, preparation, technique and pupil reaction. Although the evaluation tool would appear to necessitate observation of teacher effectiveness, there is no requirement that objective evidence of student learning be included.
Pennsylvania Code 351.21
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Pennsylvania should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
Ensure that classroom observations specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Pennsylvania commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.
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, Pennsylvania 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. In its application for Race to the Top, the state suggests titles of overall performance rating categories for its model system: entry, emerging, achieving, highly effective I and highly effective II. These are inadequate because none denotes a level of poor performance.
Pennsylvania recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that legislation has been proposed that would support student learning counting for 50 percent of teacher evaluations. The pilot for the new evaluation will take place in the 2011-2012 school year. Proposed full implementation would take place in 2012-2013.