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 remained consistent between 2017 and 2019.
Evaluation Feedback: Pennsylvania requires its teachers to be provided a signed copy of their rating form.
Professional Development: Pennsylvania's evaluation framework does not tie professional development to evaluation findings for all teachers.
Improvement Plans: Pennsylvania requires that teachers rated needs improvement or failing participate in a performance improvement plan. The improvement plan includes, among other things, "recommendations for professional development... based on the results of the rating."
Evaluation Rating Categories: Pennsylvania requires four performance rating categories: distinguished, proficient, needs improvement, and failing. Then a final rating of either satisfactory or unsatisfactory is assigned.
PA Bulletin Vol 43, No 25 June 22, 2013
Require that evaluation systems provide teachers with feedback about their performance.
Although Pennsylvania requires teachers to receive copies of their evaluations, this only ensures that teachers will receive their ratings, not necessarily feedback on their performance. Pennsylvania should specify that teachers should receive specific feedback on identified strengths and areas that need improvement.
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. Pennsylvania should ensure that districts utilize teacher evaluation results in determining professional development needs and activities.
Pennsylvania recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.