Linking Evaluation to Professional Growth:
Wyoming

2017 Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy

Goal

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.

Meets in part

Analysis of Wyoming's policies

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.

Citation

Recommendations for Wyoming

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.

State response to our analysis

Wyoming recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

7D: Linking Evaluation to Professional Growth 

  • System Feedback: The state should require that evaluation systems provide teachers with adequate feedback about their performance.
  • Improvement Plans: The state should require that all teachers who are rated as ineffective, unsatisfactory, needs improvement or its equivalent must be placed on a performance improvement plan.
  • Aligned Professional Development: The state should require districts to align professional development content with the findings from teachers' evaluations.
  • Rating Categories: The state should require that evaluation instruments differentiate among various levels of teacher performance beyond a binary system. A system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.
System Feedback
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if the state evaluation system provides teachers with adequate feedback about their performance.
Improvement Plans
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires that all teachers who are rated ineffective, unsatisfactory, needs improvement or its equivalent are placed on a performance improvement plan.
Aligned Professional Development
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it directs districts to align professional development activities with findings from teachers' evaluations.
Rating Categories
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if its evaluation system requires at least three rating categories.

Research rationale

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4] More rating categories allow for more nuanced distinctions between levels of teacher performance.


[1] For evidence of the benefits of feedback from evaluation systems, and the potential for professional development surrounding that feedback, see: Kane, T. J., Wooten, A. L., Taylor, E. S., & Tyler, J. H. (2011). Evaluating teacher effectiveness. Education Next, 11(3). Retrieved from http://educationnext.org/files/ednext_20113_research_kane.pdf; Taylor, E. S., & Tyler, J. H. (2011). The effect of evaluation on performance: Evidence from longitudinal student achievement data of mid-career teachers (No. w16877). National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w16877
[2] Much professional development, particularly those that are not aligned to specific feedback from teacher evaluations, has been found to be ineffective. For evidence see: Garet, M. S., Wayne, A. J., Stancavage, F., Taylor, J., Eaton, M., Walters, K., ... & Sepanik, S. (2011). Middle school mathematics professional development impact study: Findings after the second year of implementation (NCEE 2011-4024). National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20114024/pdf/20114024.pdf
[3] For additional evidence regarding best practices for professional development, see: Neville, K. S., & Robinson, C. J. (2003). The delivery, financing, and assessment of professional development in education: Pre-service preparation and in-service training. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED482979
[4] Weisberg, D., Sexton, S., Mulhern, J., Keeling, D., Schunck, J., Palcisco, A., & Morgan, K. (2009). The widget effect: Our national failure to acknowledge and act on differences in teacher effectiveness. New Teacher Project. Retrieved from
http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED515656.pdf