Implementing an Effective Cycle of Continuous Improvement

Any school district that wants to realize consistent year-over-year improvement in teacher effectiveness (and, consequently, student achievement) must have a system in place to assess, evaluate, and develop teaching in the classroom. Many schools that have adopted this approach call it a Cycle of Continuous Improvement.

Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada, uses the Cycle of Continuous Improvement to help their educators and students reach higher levels of performance. The cycle includes the following steps.

Cycle of Continuous Improvement

  1. Self-assessment
  2. Goal setting and plan development
  3. The observation process
  4. Mid-cycle goals review
  5. Summative evaluation


During the third step of the evaluation cycle, educators pursue goals identified in their educator plan and collect evidence of meeting standards and indicators to share with the evaluator. During the observation process, evaluators collect evidence about multiple sources on educator performance and progress toward goals, provide feedback for improvement, and ensure timely access to planned supports.

The Observation and Conference Process

Purposeful, differentiated observations offer critical opportunities for evaluators to observe, collect evidence, and analyze the educator’s practice. Observations are best done frequently and should be announced as well as unannounced. The Observation Process includes three steps:

1)     Pre-conference—Each announced observation is preceded by a Pre-Observation Conference, which facilitates discussion about educator needs and the type of evidence that evaluators will be looking for. Educators should lead these discussions and provide the evidence and rationale for their actions.

For announced observations, the educator and evaluator should use the Pre-Observation Conference Tool to discuss the upcoming observation.

2)     Classroom observation—Using the Observation Tool, the evaluator records evidence gathered during the announced or unannounced observation and identifies corresponding standards and indicators.

3)     Post-conference—Following each announced observation, the evaluator provides explicit performance feedback to the educator. The educator and evaluator use the Post-Observation Conference Tool to discuss the observation and identify professional learning needs.

Watch the Observation Process in Action

Clark County School District has seen great success using observations in the Cycle of Continuous Improvement. This week’s content on Edivate features the district’s effective use of observation. The content also includes a study guide with all the tools you need to participate in effective observations in your own school.

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