August 22, 2012

Recent State Action on Teacher Effectiveness

By By Sara Mead

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During the 2010, 2011, and 2012 legislative sessions, a combination of federal policy incentives and newly elected governors and legislative majorities in many states following the 2010 elections sparked a wave of legislation addressing teacher effectiveness. More than 20 states passed legislation designed to address educator effectiveness by mandating annual evaluations based in part on student learning and linking evaluation results to key personnel decisions, including tenure, reductions in force, dismissal of underperforming teachers, and retention. In many cases states passed multiple laws, with later laws building on previous legislation, and also promulgated regulations to implement legislation. A few states acted through regulation only.


To view/download individual state reports (PDF files), click any on the states name below:
Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington.


In an effort to help policymakers, educators, and the public better understand how this flurry of legislative activity shifted the landscape on teacher effectiveness issues—both nationally and at the state level—Bellwether Education Partners analyzed recent teacher effectiveness legislation, regulation, and supporting policy documents from 21 states that took major legislative or regulatory action on teacher effectiveness in the past three years. This analysis builds on a previous analysis of teacher effectiveness legislation in five states that Bellwether published in 2011. Our expanded analysis includes nearly all states that took major legislative action on teacher effectiveness over the past three years.

To the extent that these states have also produced regulations supporting or implementing teacher effectiveness legislation, those documents are also included in our analysis. We have also analyzed regulations from a few states, including Rhode Island, that changed their teacher effectiveness policies primarily through regulatory action. This analysis is based on state policies and documents as of August 2012. Because policy and implementation continue to evolve, and some policies described here will change over time, readers should take this into account in using this document.

Our analysis focuses on states’ teacher evaluation policies and legislative or regulatory provisions linking evaluation to key personnel decisions. We score each state’s teacher effectiveness legislation and/or regulations against 13 criteria (see report for additional details):

  • Are all teacher evaluated annually?
  • Are principals, as well as teachers, evaluated?
  • Is evidence of student learning a factor in educator evaluations?
  • Do evaluations differentiate between multiple levels of educator effectiveness?
  • Are parents and the public provided clear information about educator effectiveness?
  • Are educator preparation programs accountable for graduates’ effectiveness?
  • Is tenure linked to effectiveness?
  • Does state law or policy provide clear authority to dismiss ineffective teachers and a reasonable process for doing so?
  • Is teacher effectiveness, rather than seniority, the primary consideration in reductions in force?
  • In cases of teacher excessing, is there a process for teachers to secure new positions through mutual consent, and for those who cannot find a position to eventually be discharged from district employment?
  • Do principals have the authority to decide who teaches in their schools?
  • Does the law protect students from being assigned to ineffective teachers for two or more consecutive years?
  • Are effective teachers rewarded with increased compensation?

Key findings of our analysis are summarized in the table below:

Feature # of states with policy
Annual Teacher evaluations? 14
Principals included in evaluation? 20
Evaluation significantly informed by student learning? 21

(Preponderant criterion in 14)

Differentiate at least 4 levels of effectiveness? 18
Provide transparent information to parents and the public about teacher quality? 4
Teacher preparation programs accountable for effectiveness of graduates? 5
Tenure linked to effectiveness? 12
Clear authority to dismiss ineffective teachers? 16
End “last in, first out” layoffs? 13
End forced teacher placements/require hiring and assignment by mutual consent? 6
Process for discharge of excessed teachers who fail to gain placements through mutual consent? 1
Prevent students from being consecutively assigned ineffective teachers? 1
Reward effective teachers with increased compensation? 14

Note: This page was updated in November 2012 to include Maine, which passed teacher evaluation legislation in April 2012. Totals reported above do not include Maine.

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