Linking Evaluation to Professional Growth:
Colorado

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs 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

Analysis of Colorado's policies

Evaluation Feedback: Colorado requires that teachers receive copies of their evaluations "at least two weeks before the last class day of the school year." The written evaluations are to be discussed by the teacher and the evaluator.

Professional Development: Colorado specifies that professional development activities be linked to a teacher's evaluation and performance standards.

Improvement Plans: Colorado requires that all evaluations, regardless of rating, include "what improvements, if any, are needed in the performance of the licensed personnel and shall clearly set forth recommendations for improvements, including recommendations for additional education and training." Remediation plans are developed for teachers who have been given a rating of less-than-effective.

Evaluation Rating Categories: Colorado requires that evaluations use the following four rating categories: highly effective, effective, partially effective and ineffective.

Citation

Recommendations for Colorado

As a result of Colorado's strong policy linking evaluation to professional growth policies, no recommendations are provided.

State response to our analysis

Colorado recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. 

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