Frequency of Evaluations: Tennessee

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

Best Practice
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Frequency of Evaluations: Tennessee results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Tennessee's policies

All teachers in Tennessee must be evaluated at least annually. 

The number of required observations is differentiated based on the prior year's performance as well as license type. Apprentice teachers scoring 1-4 on their overall evaluation or growth score must be observed six times: three observations during the first half of the year and three during the latter half of the year. Professional teachers scoring 1-4 on their overall evaluation or growth score must be observed four times, equally distributed across the two semesters. All teachers scoring 5 on the overall evaluation or growth score must be observed once during the first semester, with two walkthroughs during the second semester. 

Following each observation, a postobservation conference is scheduled to discuss performance. 


Recommendations for Tennessee

As a result of Tennessee’s strong frequency of evaluations policies, no recommendations are provided.

State response to our analysis

Tennessee recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that the number of observations is differentiated based on prior year performance as well as license type. All teachers scoring a 1 on their overall evaluation or individual growth will receive four observations—two announced and two unannounced. Apprentice teachers scoring a 2-4 on their overall evaluation and neither a 1 nor a 5 on individual growth will receive four observations—two announced and two unannounced. Professional teachers scoring a 2-4 on their overall evaluation and neither a 1 nor a 5 on individual growth will receive two observations—one announced and one unannounced. All teachers who received a 5 on their overall evaluation or individual growth will receive one observation and two walkthroughs.

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.