Frequency of Evaluations: South Carolina

2015 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

Meets in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Frequency of Evaluations: South Carolina results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/SC-Frequency-of-Evaluations-71

Analysis of South Carolina's policies

South Carolina does not ensure that all teachers are evaluated annually.

Frequency of evaluations depends on contract status of the teacher. Induction contract teachers and annual contract teachers are evaluated each year with at least one formal observation per semester. Feedback is provided midyear. 

Continuing contract teachers are required to be evaluated on a "continuous basis" and are summatively evaluated during the recertification year. Although student growth data collected annually, it appears this is so that multiple years of growth may be utilized for the formal evaluation. Continuing contract teachers are not annually evaluated on evidence of student growth. During the recertification year, at least one formal observation per semester is required with feedback at midyear. 

Citation

Recommendations for South Carolina

Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers. 
All teachers in South Carolina should be evaluated annually. 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.  

State response to our analysis

South Carolina asserted that while guidelines language only states “encourages,” continuing contract teachers are currently observed in the classroom annually through informal observations and walkthroughs and are provided feedback related to professional practice through goals-based observation conferences. This practice will continue beginning implementation SY 2015-2016. In addition, student growth measures will be collected and scored annually regardless of whether it is a recertification year. All teachers will conference three times per interval of their SLO in which instructional practices are addressed. At any time a triggering event can warrant more observations with increased formality. Poor student growth results can be a triggering event.

In a follow-up response, South Carolina clarified that Expanded ADEPT Guidelines for continuing contract educators state that evidence of student growth is collected annually for these teachers. While the guidelines do not state specifically that they are scored annually, both VAM and SLOs are completed within the school year, and district SLO guidance asks that they assign a score at the end of each interval/year. VAM calculates the score each year.

How we graded

Research rationale

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.