- An overwhelming majority — 94% — of 148 large school districts observe and evaluate nontenured teachers once or twice a year, according to a new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality. Just over half (54%), however, evaluate more experienced, tenured teachers as often.
- Of the districts studied, 23 require teachers to be observed by their peers, 44 don’t, 41 make it optional and 40 do not address the matter. Most districts (107) also provide written feedback in addition to a conference with the evaluator, NCTQ said.
- To lessen the workload of administrators and improve outcomes, districts should consider observations led by peers rather than administrators, or districts should bring in a qualified third party — such as the state department of education — to conduct the evaluation, NCTQ said. Either way, the report recommends teachers receive detailed feedback and coaching through their evaluations.
As educators work to address learning loss, teacher evaluations can give them an opportunity to grow in their work, the report said.
The NCTQ report cited a 2018 RAND Corp. study that said most teachers find consistent and frequent feedback helpful in their professional development.
On average, tenured teachers are observed 2.4 times per evaluation cycle, compared to 3.3 times for nontenured, according to NCTQ.
In some states, like Tennessee, evaluations can play a large role in teacher compensation, retention and general personnel decisions.
Meanwhile, administrators are cautioned to watch out for bias can come into play in evaluations. NCTQ also cited a January study from the Tennessee Education Research Alliance at Vanderbilt University that found Black and male teachers received lower observation scores compared to White and female teachers. This was the case even when the study factored in similar teacher qualifications and student test score performance.
To mitigate potential bias, the NCTQ report suggests multiple observations from well-trained evaluators can help ensure more reliable teacher ratings and overcome concerns of bias — particularly if the district is purposeful in building a diverse group of observers, the NCTQ report said.