2017 General Teacher Prep Programs 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: Virginia's evaluation system requires feedback after formal observations; evaluation results are also discussed during a summative evaluation conference.
Professional development: Virginia requires teacher evaluations to include "identification of areas of individual strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for appropriate professional activities."
Improvement plans: Virginia requires that teachers rated developing/needs improvement or unacceptable are placed on performance improvement plans.
Evaluation rating categories: Virginia requires four rating classifications: exemplary, proficient, developing/needs improvement, and unacceptable.
Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/performance_evaluation/guidelines_ups_eval_criteria_teachers.pdf Code of Virginia 22.1-253.13:5
As a result of Virginia's strong policy linking evaluation to professional growth policies, no recommendations are provided.
Virginia 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.