Though NCTQ President Kate Walsh emphasized that states have made “huge” strides in improving evaluation designs to focus on student learning, “there is a lot more that has to happen,” she said. “We have to take what we learn from these evaluations and apply it to educator practice and policies so that all kids have effective educators. Until we connect the dots between the evaluations and stronger policies that improve teacher performance, we will be missing the point of teacher evaluation and selling teachers and students short.”

To better help educators, administrators, and schools understand the “lay of the land on state educator evaluation policy in 2013,” the report highlighted 10 key findings:

1. Annual evaluations: In 2009, only 15 states required annual evaluations of all teachers, with some states permitting educators to go five years or more between evaluations. In 2013, 27 states and the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) now require annual evaluations for all teachers.

2. Objective measures: In 2009, only four states required evidence of student learning to be the most significant criterion for evaluations. In 2013, 19 states and DCPS requires student growth and achievement to be the preponderant criterion, and another 16 states require it to count to a “significant extent,” says the report.

3. Multiple measures: 27 states require teacher ratings to be based on multiple measures of student growth and achievement. Almost every state (44 and DCPS) requires classroom observations to be incorporated into educator evaluations. Also, 17 states now require or allow surveys of students, parents, and/or peers.

4. Using data: Most states “have yet to connect the dots,” says the report, with little policy in place to use information about teacher performance “in ways that can improve practice and ensure that all students have effective teachers.” According to the report, only eight states (Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Tennessee) and DCPS are “ahead of the curve” in development of teacher policies that are “well-informed by evaluations of teacher effectiveness.”

5. Tenure and licensure: Only 18 states and DCPS require that tenure decisions must be informed by teacher evaluation ratings; and only 8 states use teacher evaluations to determine licensure advancement.

(Next page: Rewards and layoffs)