6 reasons to improve teacher and principal evaluation policies

New data and analysis released by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) finds ample opportunities for improvement in states’ teacher and principal evaluation policies. With educator quality as the most powerful in-school factor that contributes to students’ academic success, an essential component to supporting student recovery in the wake of pandemic-related learning loss must be ensuring all students have access to effective teachers and administrators.

Evidence-based teacher and principal evaluation policies, when well-implemented, have great potential to help individual educators strengthen their practice, promote overall improvements in the quality of the workforce, and—most importantly—support increased student achievement.

“Strong, well-implemented teacher and principal evaluation systems can make a big difference for both teachers and students,” said Dr. Heather Peske, NCTQ President. “It’s disappointing to see that states have continued to back away from evidence-based evaluation policies and practices over the past several years, especially when we need to ensure every child has access to great teachers more than ever.”

The new NCTQ report, State of the States 2022: Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policies, presents data and analysis on policies from all 50 states and D.C. covering essential, evidence-based components of teacher and principal evaluation systems. Despite increased state adoption of evidence-based evaluation policies over a decade ago, the most recent data documents a continued decline in the number of states with teacher and principal evaluation requirements in place that research shows have the potential to drive significant improvements in student learning. 

Key findings in the NCTQ data include:

  • Fewer states require that objective measures of student growth be included in a teacher or principal’s evaluation. Helping students to grow academically is core to the role of all educators. Between 2009 and 2015, most states adopted policies that required educator evaluations include some objective measure of student growth, such as student state, district, or school assessment data or data from student learning objectives. However, while 43 states had this requirement for both teacher and principal evaluations in 2015, that number has since dropped to 30 states for teachers and 27 states for principals. While the pandemic may have interrupted assessments, recent declines in student results should reinvigorate states’ focus on student growth.
  • Fewer states now explicitly allow or require that student feedback be incorporated into a teacher’s evaluation. Teacher evaluations that include multiple sources of data, including from student assessments, teacher observations, and student surveys, create a fuller, more accurate picture of a teacher’s performance. Despite evidence that feedback from students is an important component to include in assessing teacher quality and to gauge students’ experiences, only five states now require that student surveys be included in a teacher’s evaluation. Support for including survey data in principal evaluations has also declined, with now only eight states requiring surveys or feedback from students, teachers, parents, and/or peers be included in a principal’s evaluation.

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Taking on teacher attrition

We once believed that teacher effectiveness dramatically increased for the first three to five years on the job and then plateaued. But recent research suggests that substantial growth in effectiveness can be seen for the first 12 years on the job, and likely longer. This suggests that teacher quality develops over time and that experience can influence effectiveness.
We also know that students who have highly effective teachers for three years in a row can score 50 percentile points higher on achievement tests than students who have less effective teachers three years in a row.

But academic gains are just one of the outcomes of high teacher effectiveness. Research showed that as teachers gained experience, their students’ absenteeism rates declined. Experienced teachers tend to be better at classroom management and motivating students, resulting in fewer conduct issues and higher attendance.

And then there are soft skills, such as the ability to collaborate and problem solve, think creatively, and be empathetic. These skills—which have been linked to higher employment, greater job satisfaction, and lower crime rates—are developed, not taught, and teachers are a huge part of that development.…Read More

Fight over effective teachers shifts to courtroom

They have tried and failed to loosen tenure rules for teachers in contract talks and state legislatures, The New York Times reports. So now, a group of rising stars in the movement to overhaul education employment has gone to court. In a small, wood-paneled courtroom here this week, nine public school students are challenging California’s ironclad tenure system, arguing that their right to a good education is violated by job protections that make it too difficult to fire bad instructors. But behind the students stand a Silicon Valley technology magnate who is financing the case and an all-star cast of lawyers that includes Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general of the United States, who recently won the Supreme Court case that effectively overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage…

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