The world of teacher evaluations can be difficult to navigate when trying to remain in compliance. A report from the Center for Public Education outlines how widely teacher evaluations can differ from state to state—13 states require state-mandated evaluation systems, 21 states allow districts to design their own framework that complies with state standards, while the remaining 17 states fall somewhere in between these two ends. The goal of all the various state-mandates for teacher evaluations remains the same: to promote the growth and development of educators.
Deciding to implement an evaluation framework for your school district can help keep your school district in line with state standards, and alleviate the ambiguity frequently attached to teaching observations, feedback, and professional development.
Evaluation frameworks help maintain a consistent interpretation of what qualifies as effective teaching for every teacher in every school.
Without an evaluation framework, administrators and observers are too often left to rely on their own subjective interpretations to determine whether or not a teacher is an effective teacher. This is human nature.
A good evaluation framework offers set definitions for evaluative terms, like basic, proficient, unsatisfactory, etc. These seem like common enough terms that we all have a communal understanding of, but that’s not always true. We instill them with our own connotations and, without clearly assigning particular traits and values to these descriptions, what is “basic” to one observer could easily be noted as “proficient” to another, making a district’s evaluation process inconsistent at best.
An efficient evaluation framework places the emphasis of teacher evaluations where students will benefit the most: in the classroom.
Almost without exception, research has shown that no factor determines student success more than their experiences in the classroom. For a teacher evaluation framework to have an impact, it must be rooted in an abundance of research and insight from actual teachers, administrators, and classrooms. A given framework cannot be one-size-fits-all because—in addition to our previous point that states have different teaching mandates—classrooms themselves have different needs, skill levels, challenges, and goals. A framework should have inquiry- and research-based standards that are flexible and can be adapted to determine the effectiveness of teachers in a wide array of classroom settings.
For classroom observations to have any meaningful impact, a teacher evaluation framework must also incorporate relevant, comprehensive professional development.
One of the biggest challenges facing administrators and teachers alike comes after evaluations have been completed: where do we go from here? All jobs require ongoing learning and education; as we all know, this is also true for the staff of a school district. How educators function in a classroom depends on their commitment to continuous learning and the community.
An evaluation process that includes administrators providing specific feedback, mutually agreed-upon goal-setting, and meaningful professional development is what leads to continued educator improvement. A comprehensive evaluation framework is a powerful way to provide your teachers with the feedback they want as well as the support and tools they need to be able to grow.
For more information on teacher evaluations and how to better leverage evaluations for positive growth in your district, check out our blog post 3 Common Mistakes in Teacher Evaluations (and How to Avoid Them!).