2013 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.
Regrettably, Texas does not ensure that all teachers are evaluated annually.
Nonprobationary teachers are required to be evaluated annually; however, they may be evaluated less frequently if the teacher agrees in writing and was rated proficient on his or her most recent evaluation. In this case, teachers must be evaluated at least once every five years.
New teachers in Texas must be formally evaluated at least once a year. The state's policy does not include any guidelines on when these evaluations should occur.
Texas Education Code 21.352
Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers.
All teachers in Texas 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.
Base evaluations on multiple observations.
To guarantee that annual evaluations are based on an adequate collection of information, Texas should require multiple observations for all teachers, even those who have nonprobationary status.
Ensure that new teachers are observed and receive feedback early in the school year.
It is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers. Texas should ensure that its new teachers get the support they need, and that supervisors know early on which new teachers may be struggling or at risk for unacceptable levels of performance.
Texas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is currently developing a statewide teacher and principal evaluation system that will be based on multiple measures, requiring teachers to receive multiple observations with frequent, meaningful feedback tied to contextual, embedded professional development. Recent legislation and language in the state's proposed ESEA waiver reflect changes listed above that Texas is in the process of developing and implementing. Statewide implementation of teacher and principal evaluation systems are planned for the 2015-2016 school year.
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.