Teacher and Principal Evaluation 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.
Evaluation Feedback: Utah requires "regular conferences between an educator and an evaluator."
Professional Development: Utah requires that professional learning plans be developed by taking into account "feedback from the educator's yearly evaluation."
Improvement Plans: Utah requires "a process for an evaluator to give an educator specific, measurable, actionable, and written direction regarding an educator's needed improvement and recommended course of action." The teacher is responsible for improving his or her performance using the resources offered by the district.
Evaluation Rating Categories: Utah requires a summative evaluation rating to differentiate among four levels of performance: highly effective, effective, emerging/minimally effective, and not effective.
Utah Administrative Code R277-500, -533
Due to Utah's strong policies in this area, no recommendations are provided.
Utah was helpful in providing facts necessary for this analysis.
7D: Linking Evaluation to Professional Growth
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.
To further increase the utility and validity of evaluation systems, states should require that evaluation instruments differentiate among various levels of teacher performance rather than only giving binary satisfactory/unsatisfactory ratings. Binary rating systems often offer little meaning because virtually all teachers receive satisfactory ratings. More rating categories allow for more nuanced distinctions between levels of teacher performance.