New Utah Teacher Evaluation System Adopted

May 14, 2015

On Friday, the Utah State Board of Education approved a new way to evaluate teachers which relies more on observations by principals. The system, which has been developed over the past five years, attributes 70 percent of evaluations to observations while ascribing 20 percent and 10 percent to student performance and parent input, respectively.

According to Linda Alder, educator effectiveness coordinator with the USBE, the reforms have broad support among Utah’s educators.

“Change has been difficult but districts have really stepped up, done a lot of development work within their own district,” Alder said. “The percentages have been vetted very thoroughly among superintendents, teachers, teachers organizations, and we’ve had very little pushback on the actual percentages. People are pretty happy with that as a starting place.”

The system features repeated unannounced observations of teachers in the classroom and other settings throughout the school day. The student performance segment combines results from Utah’s SAGE test with individualized learning objectives.

This will be the first time that parents are legally required to have the opportunity to voice their concerns. According to Alder, districts are at liberty to use a variety of means to get parents’ thoughts.

“It can be a survey, that’s often talked about. There are other ways that districts are using. They may be using focus groups, they may be measuring the quality of interactions,” she said. “In our state, we’re experimenting with the idea of teachers and principals not only being rated on the input from the stakeholders, but also as part of their rating being rated on how they react to it.”

Over the next few years, legislation connecting teacher pay with classroom performance will be phased in as well.