Mentors' evaluation feedback for early-career teachers should include suggestions on how to implement their recommendations into daily practice. When novice teachers don’t have the experience to incorporate the suggestions on their own, the feedback becomes overwhelming, University of San Francisco teacher education adjunct professor Donna Scarlett writes for Edutopia.
Scarlett writes that administrators should include specific tools, guidance and resources that will help the teachers improve, and that teachers should request clarification on the feedback and develop an action plan that targets areas of growth.
She recommends teachers analyze the feedback by reviewing it with a colleague. Also, they should consider where growth is needed based on the data provided in the feedback and whether or not more evidence is needed to demonstrate skills — such as teaching videos and student work.
A national effort has been underway to make teacher evaluations more effective even though the Every Student Succeeds Act leaves the design of those systems up to states and districts. Some rating systems now indicate levels such as “developing” or “needs improvement.”
In some districts, teacher evaluations are tied to bonuses and raises. But such a system was partially blamed for triggering the teacher’s strike in Denver Public Schools last year. Principals play a significant role in whether or not these pay-for-performance systems work by making sure that the feedback is actually useful to a teacher’s practice.
Evaluations are common, with nearly 90% of teachers reporting that they receive feedback at least once a year. Feedback is often more welcome when it comes from a person such as a mentor, coach or peer, a survey of teachers found. The results also showed that teachers find feedback more useful when it was given more frequently. Teachers in higher-poverty schools receive more feedback than those in lower poverty schools, according the survey. But principals often say they don't have time to keep up with the process of evaluations and feedback.
Factoring student test scores into teacher evaluations gained traction during the Obama administration under Race to the Top, and many states still focus on both student assessment and teacher evaluations to determine teacher quality. But some have also moved away from those policies. Some states seem to do be doing better than others when it comes to providing feedback on evaluations that lead to improved teacher performance.