New research indicates policy reversals and state rethink efforts to overhaul teacher evaluation systems.

States are questioning teacher evaluation systems

New research indicates policy reversals and state rethink efforts to overhaul teacher evaluation systems

Ten states (Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) and the District of Columbia have now removed their requirement that teacher evaluations consider any source of objective evidence of student learning. Two states (Alabama and Texas) went against the grain and shifted to include such evidence, leaving a net balance of 34 states that now require schools to factor objective measures of student learning into teacher evaluation ratings (down from a high of 43 states in 2015).

Another four states (Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and New York), while still requiring that objective measures of student learning be a factor in teacher evaluations, have decided to no longer require the use of data from their own standardized tests of students as a measure of a teacher’s effectiveness.
Those states are now providing more flexibility to their districts to identify other sources of evidence of student learning, such as district assessments, student portfolios, and student learning objectives, though none is as easily comparable across schools and districts.

Among the other policy reversals by states since 2015:

  • Five states (Alabama, Arkansas, Nevada, Ohio, and Wyoming) have stopped requiring teachers to be evaluated every year.
  • Four states (Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oregon) have stopped requiring that teachers who receive low evaluation ratings be put on improvement plans.
  • Four states (Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wyoming) and the District of Columbia have stopped either requiring or explicitly allowing student survey data to be used in teacher evaluations.

States have also stepped back from their new requirements for evaluating school principals on student learning and that all principals are evaluated each year. “These actions,” asserted Walsh, “indicate that it is not just teachers’ unions that have pushed back on new evaluation policies, but school districts as well.”

Continued Walsh, “These states had buyer’s remorse, following on the heels of lackluster efforts by many of their school districts when implementing their new policies. Hopefully those remaining states will stand strong, with their patience and persistence paying off in terms of a stronger teacher workforce.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione

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