Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Pennsylvania

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


The state should articulate consequences for teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations, including specifying that teachers with multiple unsatisfactory evaluations should be eligible for dismissal.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Pennsylvania results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/PA-Unsatisfactory-Evaluations-10

Analysis of Pennsylvania's policies

Pennsylvania requires that teachers who receive two consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations be formally eligible for dismissal. Although state policy indicates that "an opportunity for the professional employee to improve" should be available after the first negative rating, it does not address whether the teacher should be placed on a structured improvement plan.

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania's effort to make unsatisfactory evaluations grounds for termination does not carry over to the state's dismissal policy (see Goal 5-C).


Recommendations for Pennsylvania

Require that all teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations be placed on improvement plans.
Pennsylvania should require that teachers who receive even one unsatisfactory evaluation be placed on structured improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should list noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies and describe how and when progress will be measured.

State response to our analysis

Pennsylvania recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that there is currently no need to legislate this action because school districts build improvement plans to support layoff or firing decisions should they go to arbitration. 

Last word

The point of the recommendation is not that districts should have improvement plans in the event a dismissal decision goes to arbitration, but that teachers who are not meeting expectations receive a plan designed to identify and help them address their deficiencies.  

Research rationale

To review the process and types of personnel evaluations observed in other job sectors, including the problems inherent to some evaluation systems see, for example, Gliddon, David (October 2004). Effective Performance Management Systems, Current Criticisms and New Ideas for Employee Evaluation in Performance Improvement 43(9), 27-36.