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. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Evaluation feedback: Wyoming requires that teachers receive a written report relating to their performance evaluations.
Professional development: Wyoming requires that professional development activities be aligned with findings from teachers' performance evaluations. School districts are required to link their evaluation systems with individual and collective teacher professional growth.
Improvement plans: Wyoming requires evaluation systems to provide feedback to each certified personnel member, as well as opportunities for identify areas that need improvement and suggestions for how improvement can occur. Districts are required to provide mentoring and professional development opportunities to teachers rated unsatisfactorily, but there are no requirements to put teachers on structured improvement plans.
Evaluation rating categories: Wyoming requires four performance ratings: highly effective, effective, in need of improvement, and ineffective.
Wyoming Statutes 21-2-304; 21-3-110
Require that evaluation systems provide teachers with feedback about their performance.
Although Wyoming requires teachers to receive copies of their evaluations, this only ensures that teachers will receive their ratings, not necessarily feedback on their performance. Wyoming should specify that teachers should receive specific feedback on identified strengths and areas that need improvement.
Ensure that teachers receiving less-than-effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan.
Wyoming should adopt a policy requiring that teachers who receive even one unsatisfactory evaluation are placed on structured improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should identify noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies, and describe how and when progress will be measured.
Wyoming 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.