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: Washington requires that teachers are given written feedback following each observation conducted for the purpose of evaluation.
Professional development: Washington does not have a policy that connects professional development to teachers' evaluations.
Improvement plans: Washington requires "immediate intervention" for any teacher with an unsatisfactory summative score and "specific support" for those with a basic summative score. Also, at any time after October 15th, a teacher whose work is not judged satisfactory based on district evaluation criteria must be notified in writing of the specific areas of deficiencies along with a reasonable program for improvement.
Evaluation rating categories: Washington requires four rating levels: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, distinguished.
RCW 28A.405.100 WAC 392-191A-140
Ensure that professional development is aligned with findings from teachers' evaluations.
Professional development that is not informed by evaluation results may be of little value to teachers' professional growth and the aim of increasing their effectiveness in the classroom. Washington should ensure that districts utilize teacher evaluation results in determining professional development needs and activities.
Washington recognized the factual accuracy of 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.