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Strengthening the link between evaluation and professional development

By June 13, 2013June 13th, 20163 Comments

With a greater focus than ever before on educator effectiveness, more and more states are linking improved performance of teachers and principals not only to their new educator evaluation systems but also to their professional development systems. In fact, state legislatures and boards of education in 15 states have recently passed laws that require districts to use results from educator evaluations when planning professional development (PD).

From both research and our practical experience working with educators across the country, we know that to improve educator performance, PD needs to be 1) systematically planned, 2) implemented with fidelity, and 3) evaluated for effectiveness.

Here’s an example of how one Race to the Top state is addressing these three components. After implementing a new educator evaluation system, this state decided to focus on building the capacity of its local school districts and education agencies to plan, implement, and evaluate PD. The state collaborated with McREL to develop a series of professional learning sessions called Preparing Districts to Evaluate Professional Development. Local PD administrators from across the state are participating in the eight sessions, receiving support and technical assistance as they implement the strategies they learn.

As part of the project, we’re using an online survey to assess the impact of the sessions using Guskey’s (2002) five levels of evaluating PD: participant reaction, participant learning, participant use of the new knowledge and skills, organizational support and change, and student learning outcomes.

In regards to implementing the new knowledge and skills they’ve learned in the first three modules, respondents reported challenges and successes. One participant, for example, stated that it was challenging to translate the results of educators’ evaluations into PD offerings that address individual educator’s needs. One reported success was the effectiveness of the data analysis tool provided in Preparing Districts to Evaluate Professional Development in helping determine what PD to offer.

We’d like to know how your district or service agency is integrating educator evaluation system results and PD:

  • How do your school and/or district staff use educator evaluation system results to inform PD at the individual, school, and district levels?
  • How do you know that the PD provided is supporting educators’ professional
    development plans?
  • How do you know PD is working?

2011_MaierShelby Maier is a senior researcher at McREL, where she designs studies, develops instruments, collects and analyzes data,and evaluates programs, including a state-level evaluation of an RTTT initiative. You can reach her at or 303.632.5611.

McREL is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.


  • bad says:

    Thanks again for the article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

  • Karen Balanquit says:

    As of yet my school does not link evaluation with PD. This would be beneficial to help build competence in areas of weakness. We will begin a new evaluation system for the 2013-2014 school year. Details will be available for me (teacher) later this week.

  • Karen Balanquit says:

    My school will begin a new evaluation system this year. I would find it beneficial if PD was tied to my classroom performance. Currently there is not PD offered. This will change too once we implement common core standards.

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