Professional Development: Utah

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations.

Meets a small part of goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Professional Development: Utah results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Utah's policies

New legislation in Utah stipulates that data gathered from evaluation tools "may be considered" by LEAs to inform professional development. In addition, the new rule states that "a LEA evaluation system shall assess professional development needs of educators."


Recommendations for Utah

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, Utah should require that evaluation systems provide teachers with feedback about their classroom performance.

Ensure that professional development is aligned with findings from teachers' evaluations.
Utah's new legislation is certainly a step in the right direction. However, the state is encouraged to strengthen its policy to ensure that districts utilize teacher evaluation results in determining the professional development needs and activities for individual teachers. 

State response to our analysis

Utah was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. Utah also noted that based on new Board Rule R277-500-3, active teachers are required to meet annually to create and maintain a Professional Growth Plan for renewal of their educator license.

Last word

Professional growth plans can be a helpful means for teachers to build upon strengths and areas identified that need improvement in their evaluations. Unfortunately, Utah's Professional Growth Plan is not linked to teachers' evaluations, making it an unreliable means for addressing teachers' professional growth and accomplishing the aim of increasing their effectiveness in the classroom.

Research rationale

For evidence of the benefits of feedback from evaluation systems, and the potential for professional development surrounding that feedback, see T. Kane et al, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next. Vol 11, No. 3 (2011); E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." National Bureau of Economic Research (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, "Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study: Findings After the Second Year of Implementation." Institute of Education Sciences (2011).

For additional evidence regarding best practices for professional development, see "The Deliver, Financing, and Assessment of Professional Development in Education: Pre-Service Preparation and In-Service Training." The Finance Project (2003).