2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy
The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
Frequency of evaluations: West Virginia 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 "based on an appraisal of the educator's ability to perform the established professional standards."
Multiple observations: West Virginia requires that new teachers in their first three years of teaching are 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. 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.
Feedback for new teachers: West Virginia's observation requirements ensure that new teachers receive feedback early in the year.
West Virginia BOE Policy 5310 http://apps.sos.wv.gov/adlaw/csr/readfile.aspx?DocId=24716&Format=PDF
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 indicated that its Educator Evaluation System utilizes progressions for all educators across the state. Advanced teachers, while not observed, are required to complete self-reflection, which allows the evaluator and teacher to assess strengths and weaknesses across all standards—not just professional practice—leading to professional development opportunities. In addition, advanced teachers are also required to complete two student learning goals, which contribute to the overall summative rating.
The state further reiterated that it requires a summative rating for teachers and principals annually. Observations are a required component for initial and intermediate progressions, with four and two respectively completed. The first observation is to be completed by November 1, which falls within the three first months of a contracted period for teachers.
7C: Frequency of Evaluation and Observation
Observations serve several purposes, including to provide actionable feedback to teachers and to provide a summative rating that can be used in staffing decisions. Observations can be a rich source of information for teachers, giving them useful feedback to improve their practice.
Multiple data sources should be used in teacher evaluation, including multiple observations by more than one observer. Teacher observations conducted by principals that occur once or twice a year and consist of rating teachers on observable behaviors and characteristics have not proved valid. Research widely finds that the nature of their role as both instructional leaders and summative judges inhibits principals' ability to reliably serve as evaluators. In contrast, observations conducted by peers and other observers with subject knowledge are valid and reliable. Additionally, teacher observations are more effective when they occur in tandem with aligned professional development.
Observations are especially important for new teachers. 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. States should specifically require that new teachers receive an observation early in the school year. Early feedback may be especially essential for new teachers, given that teachers' performance in their first year is a strong predictor of their performance in later years.
Student reports of teacher quality are a unique and largely untapped source of rich data. Research finds that student input on teacher quality adds value to teacher evaluation systems. Research also finds teachers prefer evaluation systems that include student survey data. Students' first-hand reports of classroom elements (e.g., textbooks, homework, instruction), teacher-student communication, assignments, and daily classroom operations may provide teachers with credible information about their impact in the classroom, as well as serve as a tool for formative evaluation. Student perceptions of learning environments can be reliable and predictive of learning. Including student surveys in teacher evaluation systems strengthens the ability to identify teachers' effects on outcomes beyond standardized test scores. In addition, teacher evaluation systems that include student survey data, which are somewhat correlated with teachers' student growth measures, are stronger, more reliable, and more valid than those that rely solely on administrator reports and observations.