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: West Virginia requires post-observation conferences to "exchange reflection and feedback and identify strategies and resources," as well as an end-of-year conference.
Professional development: West Virginia specifies that evaluations "serve as a basis for professional development that specifically targets the area(s) identified for professional growth."
Improvement plans: West Virginia employs two types of plans to support continuous improvement. The focused support plan is when there is documented evidence indicating an area of concern. The corrective action plan is used when an evaluation is complete and shows unsatisfactory performance based on one or more of the state's standards.
Evaluation rating categories: West Virginia requires four performance ratings: distinguished, accomplished, emerging, and unsatisfactory.
West Virginia BOE Policy 5310, 126-142-10, -13
As a result of West Virginia's strong linking of evaluation to professional growth policies, no recommendations are provided.
West Virginia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state reiterated that it requires that all teachers who are observed participate in a face-to-face follow-up conference to discuss evidence collected and what was observed. Its improvement plan process includes two levels: the focused support plan (between administrator and teacher) and the corrective action plan, which is determinative at the end of 18 weeks. Further, professional development in West Virginia is aligned based on data collected from its Educator Evaluation System. It is a required part of its annual strategic plan and is referred to as the WVSIPP (West Virginia Support for Improving Professional Practice).
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.