Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.
West Virginia now requires that all teachers are evaluated annually.
All teachers in their first five years of teaching receive annual summative evaluations. Nonprobationary teachers with six-plus years of experience are evaluated annually; however, 80 percent of their evaluations are self-reflection.
Nonprobationary teachers in their fourth and fifth years of teaching must be observed at least two times, with the first observation occurring before November 1 and the second taking place before May 1. For teachers with six-plus years of experience, observations are not required unless requested by a principal.
New teachers in their first three years of teaching must be observed at least four times; two observations must be conducted during an instructional activity. The first instructional observation must take place by November 1, the second between November 1 and January 1, the third between January 1 and March 1 and the final one between March 1 and May 1. Postobservation conferences are scheduled after each observation to discuss teacher performance.
West Virginia BOE Policy 5310 http://apps.sos.wv.gov/adlaw/csr/readfile.aspx?DocId=24716&Format=PDF HB 4236 (2012)
Strengthen formal evaluation requirements for nonprobationary teachers.
Although West Virginia has taken a step in the right direction by requiring annual evaluations for all teachers, it should strengthen its policy regarding nonprobationary teachers with six-plus years of experience. Observation of professional practice is important for all teachers, even for those with experience; therefore, teacher evaluation instruments should include factors that combine both professional judgment and objective measures of student learning. While teachers may find self-reflection useful, making it the basis for the majority of the evaluation score is unlikely to result in the kind of meaningful and actionable feedback that will be helpful to either effective or ineffective teachers.
Base evaluations on multiple observations.
To guarantee that annual evaluations are based on an adequate collection of information, West Virginia should require multiple observations for all teachers, even those who have nonprobationary status.
West Virginia was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
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.