Retaining Effective Teachers 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.
New regulations in South Dakota require teacher evaluation systems that "inform professional growth and development of teachers." The state also requires that a plan of assistance be developed for teachers who do not meet a district's performance standards, but the policy extends only to teachers who have been teaching four years or longer. South Dakota pilot recommendations call for pre- and post-evaluation conferences between the teacher and evaluator.
South Dakota Codified Law 13-42-34 South Dakota Administrative Rule 24:55:01:04 South Dakota Teacher Effectiveness Handbook http://doe.sd.gov/oatq/documents/TEP_HandbookDraft.pdf
Require that evaluation systems provide teachers with feedback about their performance. In order to increase their effectiveness in the classroom, teachers need to receive feedback on strengths and areas that need improvement identified in their evaluations. As such, South Dakota should require that evaluation systems provide teachers with feedback about their classroom performance.
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 aim of increasing their effectiveness in the classroom. South Dakota should ensure that districts utilize teacher evaluation results in determining professional development needs and activities.
Ensure that teachers receiving less than effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan. Although South Dakota requires a plan of assistance for teachers not meeting district standards, this only applies to teachers in their fourth or subsequent years of teaching. The state should adopt a policy requiring that all 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 identify noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies and describe how and when progress will be measured.
South Dakota indicated that the state's Teacher and Principal Effectiveness Models encourage and expect increased communication between teachers and principals. This will lead to a better identification of professional development needed by the teachers and can be found in the handbook.
South Dakota stated that the Department of Education is in the process of writing new rules regarding the Teacher Evaluation Requirements. These rules were passed by the state board of education and entered formal rulemaking in Fall 2013.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.
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.
Professional Development: Supporting Research
For evidence of the benefits of feedback from evaluation systems, and the potential for professional development surrounding that feedback, see T. Kane, E. Taylor, J. Tyler, and A. Wooten, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next, Volume 11, No. 3, Summer 2011; E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers," NBER Working Paper No. 16877, March 2011.
Much professional development, particularly those that are not aligned to specific feedback from teacher evaluations, has been found to be ineffective. For evidence see M. Garet, A. Wayne, F. Stancavage, J. Taylor, M. Eaton, K. Walters, M. Song, S. Brown, S. Hurlburt, P. Zhu, S. Sepanik, F. Doolittle, and E. Warner, "Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study: Findings After the Second Year of Implementation." Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, May 2011, NCEE 2011-4024.
For additional evidence regarding best practices for professional development, see K. Neville and C. Robinson, "The Delivery, Financing, and Assessment of Professional Development in Education: Pre-Service Preparation and In-Service Training" The Finance Project, 2003.