The Arizona Revised Statutes have been updated to include the revised sections from the 55th Legislature, 2nd Regular Session. Please note that the next update of this compilation will not take place until after the conclusion of the 56th Legislature, 1st Regular Session, which convenes in January 2023.
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15-537. Performance of certificated teachers; evaluation system; alternative performance evaluation cycle; confidentiality
A. The governing board shall establish a system to evaluate the performance of certificated teachers in the school district that results in at least one evaluation of each certificated teacher by a qualified evaluator each school year or as provided in subsection B of this section. The governing board shall establish a teacher performance evaluation system that is designed to improve teacher performance and improve student achievement and that includes the use of quantitative data on the academic progress for all students, which shall account for between twenty percent and thirty-three percent of the evaluation outcomes. The evaluation system shall include four performance classifications, designated as highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective. The objectives of the teacher performance evaluation system are to improve instruction and maintain instructional strengths. The governing board shall involve its certificated teachers in the development and periodic evaluation of the teacher performance evaluation system.
B. A school district may use an alternative performance evaluation cycle pursuant to this subsection subject to the following:
1. The governing board shall adopt policies for an expedited performance review during the years in which a teacher is not undergoing a formal performance evaluation pursuant to subsection A of this section. The expedited performance review policies may classify teacher performance in categories that include teamwork and support for lower-performing teachers.
2. The governing board shall allow only teachers who have been evaluated and designated in the highest performance classification for at least three consecutive years by the same school district under the evaluation system established pursuant to subsection A of this section to participate in the alternative performance evaluation cycle.
3. If an expedited performance review under this subsection determines that the teacher is not in the highest performance classification, the teacher shall be removed from the alternative performance evaluation cycle and be reviewed under the evaluation system established pursuant to subsection A of this section.
C. The governing board shall adopt teacher evaluation policies in a public meeting. Before adopting teacher evaluation policies, the governing board shall provide opportunities for public discussion on the proposed policies. The policies shall describe:
1. Incentives for teachers in the highest performance classification, which may include multiyear contracts not to exceed three years. The policies shall specify that the offer and acceptance of a multiyear contract does not exclude that teacher from the application of section 15-538.01, 15-540, 15-541 or 15-549 and that the teacher may accept a multiyear contract offer or decline and accept a one-year contract.
2. Incentives for teachers in the two highest performance classifications to work at schools that are assigned a letter grade of D or F pursuant to section 15-241.
3. Protections for teachers who are transferred to schools that are assigned a letter grade of D or F pursuant to section 15-241.
4. Protections for teachers if the principal of the school is designated in the lowest performance classification.
D. The policies prescribed in subsection C of this section shall describe:
1. Performance improvement plans for teachers designated in the lowest performance classification.
2. Dismissal or nonrenewal procedures pursuant to section 15-536 or 15-539 for teachers who continue to be designated in the lowest performance classification. The procedures shall require that the school district issue the preliminary notice of inadequacy of classroom performance no later than the second consecutive year that the teacher is designated in one of the two lowest performance classifications unless the teacher is in the first or second year of employment with the school district or has been reassigned to teach a new subject or grade level for the preceding or current school year.
E. A teacher who has been employed by the school district for the major portion of three or more consecutive school years and who is currently designated in the lowest performance classification for two consecutive school years shall not be transferred as a teacher to another school in that school district unless the school district has issued a preliminary notice of inadequacy of classroom performance and approved a performance improvement plan for the teacher pursuant to section 15-539 and the governing board has approved the new placement as in the best interests of the pupils in the school. A teacher who continues to be designated in one of the two lowest performance classifications shall not be permitted to transfer to another school. A teacher shall not be transferred more than once pursuant to this subsection.
F. The governing board shall prescribe specific procedures for the teacher performance evaluation system, which shall include at least the following elements:
1. At least two actual classroom observations of the certificated teacher demonstrating teaching skills in a complete and uninterrupted lesson by the qualified evaluator. There shall be at least sixty calendar days between the first and last observations. The last observation may follow the issuance of a preliminary notice of inadequacy of classroom performance and be used to determine whether the teacher has corrected inadequacies and has demonstrated adequate classroom performance. An observation shall not be conducted within two instructional days of any scheduled period in which school is not in session for one week or more. Within ten business days after each observation, the qualified evaluator shall provide written feedback to the teacher.
2. Specific and reasonable plans for the improvement of teacher performance as provided in subsection I of this section.
3. Appeal procedures for teachers who disagree with the evaluation of their performance, if the evaluation is for use as criteria for establishing compensation.
4. Training requirements for qualified evaluators.
5. A plan for the appropriate use of quantitative data of student academic progress in evaluations of all certificated teachers. The plan may make distinctions between certificated teachers who provide direct instruction to students and certificated teachers who do not provide direct instruction to students. The plan may include data for multiple school years and may limit the use of data for certificated teachers who have taught for less than two complete school years.
G. The governing board may waive the requirement of a second classroom observation for a continuing teacher whose teaching performance based on the first classroom observation places the teacher in one of the two highest performance classifications for the current school year, unless the teacher requests a second observation.
H. The results of an annual evaluation conducted as provided in this section shall be in writing or provided in an electronic format to the certificated teacher, and a copy shall be transmitted or provided in an electronic format to the certificated teacher within five days after completion of the evaluation. The certificated teacher may initiate a written reaction or response to the evaluation.
I. Each evaluation shall include recommendations as to areas of improvement in the performance of the certificated teacher if the performance of the teacher warrants improvement. After transmittal of an evaluation, the qualified evaluator or another board designee shall confer with the teacher to make specific recommendations as to areas of improvement in the teacher's performance. The qualified evaluator or other board designee shall provide professional development opportunities for the certificated teacher to improve performance and follow up with the teacher after a reasonable period of time for the purpose of ascertaining that the teacher is demonstrating adequate performance.
J. Copies of the evaluation report and performance classification of a certificated teacher retained by the governing board and the department of education are confidential, do not constitute a public record and shall not be released or shown to any person except:
1. To the certificated teacher who may make any use of it.
2. To authorized district officers and employees for all personnel matters regarding employment and contracts and for any hearing that relates to personnel matters.
3. To school districts and charter schools that inquire about the performance of the teacher for prospective employment purposes. A school district or charter school that receives information about a certificated teacher from the evaluation report and performance classification shall use this information solely for employment purposes and shall not release this information to or allow access to this information by any other person, entity, school district or charter school.
4. For introduction in evidence or discovery in any court action between the governing board and the certificated teacher in which either:
(a) The competency of the teacher is at issue.
(b) The evaluation and performance classification were an exhibit at a hearing, the result of which is challenged.
K. Any school district policy pertaining to the transfer of teachers from one school to another school in a school district shall take into consideration the current distribution of teachers across all of the performance classifications and the needs of the pupils in the school district.