The TESOL President’s Blog
Many teachers understandably do not enjoy or appreciate being evaluated. Some teachers actually dislike or resent evaluation systems in general, or the system that is implemented in their workplace specifically. Regardless of these opinions, I think that nowadays all high quality institutions, or teaching organizations all over the world that aspire to be regarded as high quality, have a teacher evaluation or appraisal system in place.
Teacher evaluation is here to stay, and the question to be considered is not whether there should be a teacher evaluation system but how to evaluate teachers effectively. On examining the literature and current practices in various our profession, it can be seen that there is no single unified approach. Teacher evaluation systems in different countries and institutions vary considerably in design, ranging from an informal system of peer reviews to an annual formal performance management system. In spite of this variation, there is agreement in our field on some common features that all effective teacher evaluation systems share. The following are nine features of a good evaluation system:
- The teacher evaluation system must have the two purposes of improving as well as measuring teaching effectiveness. The system should focus on improving teaching as well as accountability—improved student learning.
- The system should be based on teacher standards that define teaching and teacher quality.
- The system must be linked with professional development. Providing feedback to teachers on their performance is meaningless if there are no opportunities provided to learn and practice new skills.
- Because teaching is complex, it cannot be measured by just one or two tools. The system must include multiple sources of information on teachers’ effectiveness such as observations, student evaluations of teachers, parent surveys, teacher self-report measures, teacher portfolios, and evidence of student learning.
- A career ladder as well as merit pay for teachers should be in place to recognize and reward teaching excellence.
- All evaluators should be well trained and knowledgeable so that the evaluations are credible and conducted with expertise.
- Serious evaluations require time and money. We must spend to get teacher evaluation right, and effective evaluation systems require a budget to support and sustain them.
- A top-down evaluation system can create resistance among teachers. Effective evaluation systems must be designed in partnership with teachers participating from the beginning.
- A teacher evaluation system must take into account the external factors that impact teachers’ performance and effectiveness. One factor is the conditions of teaching in an institution, such as class size. These conditions may vary from one workplace to another and thus, an educator who is an effective teacher in one context may be less effective in a teaching context with different, or more difficult conditions. Other factors that affect teacher practices are culture, teaching traditions. and examinations systems.
Use the above checklist to assess your current teacher evaluation system to find out how effective it is. I would be very interested to hear from you about your views on good teacher evaluation systems or features of such systems that work in your contexts.