Frequency of Evaluations: Washington

2015 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

Best Practice
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Frequency of Evaluations: Washington results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/WA-Frequency-of-Evaluations-71

Analysis of Washington's policies

Washington requires annual performance evaluations for all teachers, with comprehensive evaluations every four years. In the years when a comprehensive summative evaluation is not required, teachers rated proficient or higher in the previous school year are only required to complete a focused evaluation, which includes an assessment of one of the eight criteria (see "Evaluation of Effectiveness" analysis and recommendations) for a performance rating plus professional growth activities. However, any teacher on a focused evaluation must include student growth as an element. 

Any teacher who receives an unsatisfactory or basic comprehensive summative evaluation rating is subject to a comprehensive evaluation the following year. 

All teachers must be observed at least twice each school year. New teachers must be observed during the first 90 days of the school year. During the third year of provisional status, teachers must be observed at least three times. Written feedback is provided after each observation. 

Citation

Recommendations for Washington

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

State response to our analysis

Washington was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

How we graded

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.