Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Improving on State Teacher Legislation: Idea #4: Don’t Forget About Teachers Who Need Improvement

By Sara Mead — August 15, 2011 1 min read

Under recently passed legislation, states are moving to adopt evaluation regimes that, in most cases, assign teachers one of four effectiveness ratings:


  • Highly effective (or something like that)
  • Effective (or something like that)
  • Needs improvement (or something like that)
  • Ineffective (or something like that)

Most of the laws we recently reviewed also take steps to ensure that ineffective teachers (generally those who are rated ineffective two years in a row, or fail to improve after completing an improvement plan) can be dismissed. But what about teachers who are rated “Needs Improvement"--but never actually improve? Under many of these laws, a teacher could remain in the “needs improvement” category for his or her entire career.

Is this a good policy? Or should these teachers be given some window of time in which to improve or find something else to do? I’m not sure, but it’s a question worth asking, particularly as we gain more experience and see how these systems actually play out in practice. (Indiana is an exception, allowing for dismissal of teachers who receive an “ineffective” or “needs improvement” rating in 3 out of 5 years)

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The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.