Beyond Ratings?

ESSA and What's Next for State Teacher Evaluation Systems

The recent enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ends the strongest federal incentives for states to continue the work they have undertaken over the past five years to develop new teacher evaluation systems. Still, the law maintains states’ obligation to ensure students have equitable access to effective teachers. And for the first time, the law explicitly allows states to invest in evaluation systems that go beyond ratings and provide teachers with “useful and timely feedback” and “inform decision-making about professional development and improvement strategies.”

How will this scenario play out for the evaluation systems states have already worked to put in place? Will states walk back from their current evaluation efforts, given the pushback some have received for having systems too focused on rating teachers and not enough on supporting their improvement? Or will states stay the course and make system adjustments—minor or major—to ensure a greater focus on teachers’ professional growth?

On Monday, March 7 at 10:00 am, join New America’s Education Policy Program for a discussion about states’ teacher evaluation efforts to date, and predictions for their future within the context of ESSA. Education Week reporter Stephen Sawchuk will moderate a panel that includes Dawn Krusemark from the American Federation of Teachers, representatives from Tennessee and Delaware—two states that have been forerunners in implementing new evaluation systems—as well as Daniel Weisberg of TNTP, whose organization recently released a report questioning what we know about helping teachers develop.

To tee up this discussion, New America’s Kaylan Connally and Melissa Tooley will share findings and recommendations from their new report, Beyond Ratings, to be released at the event. One key takeaway is that states have generally failed to harness evaluation systems’ full potential for helping teachers improve. However, the report also highlights how several states—including Tennessee and Delaware—offer some promising ideas and useful lessons for shifting these systems further toward support, and provides additional steps states can take to meet this goal.

A light breakfast will be served. 

Follow the discussion on Twitter by using #BeyondRatings and following @NewAmericaEd.


Opening Remarks:

  • Kevin Carey, Director, Education Policy Program, New America
  • Chris Minnich, Executive Director of the Council for Chief State School Officers


  • Melissa Tooley, Senior Policy Analyst, Education Policy Program, New America
  • Kaylan Connally, Policy Analyst, Education Policy Program, New America


  • Paul Fleming, Assistant Commissioner of Teachers and Leaders, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Dawn Krusemark, Senior Associate Director, Educational Issues, American Federation of Teachers
  • Laura Schneider, Special Assistant, Educator Evaluation, Delaware Department of Education
  • Daniel Weisberg, CEO, TNTP


  • Stephen Sawchuk, Associate Editor, Education Week