Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/School Organization/Evaluation

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Patrick King


Teacher Evaluation: Who decides if I am successful, and how?[edit]

Introduction

The teaching profession is one of the most important, fundamental occupations in today’s society. Teachers play a very influential role in the lives of their students, and have a great impact on their future and on society as a whole. Because teachers play such an intricate part in society’s well-being, school systems have to make sure teachers have efficient skills and knowledge in their disciplines, and that their methods of teaching are effective. Teachers frequently have to undergo an evaluation process in which school administrators assess the teacher’s competence, teaching abilities, effectiveness, and overall success. It is imperative that this assessment be carried out honestly and accurately to ensure the best quality of education for the students.

"By understanding the means by which teachers have attained student learning and growth, assessors can verify that they actually possess the skills, knowledge, and habits necessary to attain consistent, continued student learning and growth," (Johnson & Jones, 1998, p. 1).




The Evaluation Process: Who Evaluates?

The teacher evaluation process is a collaborative project in which members of the School administration take part. The principal, and other administrators in the school system, come together to complete this task. Before the school year begins, the principal, administrators, and teachers meet to discuss specific goals for the school and its classes. The principal explains the supervision process, and reviews the evaluation instrument with the teachers (Spokane, 2002). The teacher must then prepare the lesson plan for the class and think of a way to administer the classroom in an effective manner. The principal usually has scheduled observation dates, and may also have unscheduled and unannounced dates of observation and evaluation. The teacher is assessed based on performance, the validity of the material taught, and overall effectiveness and connectivity with the students.


The Evaluation Process: Support and Criticisms

Each teacher has his or her own individual style and methods of teaching. It is impossible for all teachers to adopt a universal system of teaching because each teacher has a different background, different life experiences, and unique morals and values. These differences must be taken into consideration when creating an evaluation rubric for teachers, and in the actual process of evaluation. Many people believe that most teacher evaluation systems are fair, but a great number of people disagree. They feel that many evaluation instruments used in school systems eliminate individuality in teaching styles and take away the essence of a good education. Teachers and administrators have very different outlooks on the evaluation process. According to Enz & Searfoss (1993), evaluation of teacher performance “only perpetuates the status quo (principals’ views) and causes nothing but frustration over missed opportunities (teachers’ views),” (p. 7). Enz & Searfoss (1993) found that administrators were reluctant to alter the status quo. Even though the administrators agreed that the evaluation system should be augmented to improve the assessment of holistic, integrated classrooms, they felt change was unnecessary because the effective teachers would “top out” on the evaluation instrument regardless, and their merit pay would not be affected by the change (Enz & Searfoss, 1993, p. 5). The teachers in this study felt that their holistic and integrative teaching philosophy was unappreciated by the principals, who used an evaluation system based on a direct instruction model (Enz & Searfoss, 1993, p. 3). Rather than trying to defend their holistic, integrated beliefs, the teachers prepared a direct instruction lesson for their evaluation in order to please the principals (Enz & Searfoss, 1993, p. 6). These teachers viewed their evaluations as missed opportunities: opportunities in which the principals missed out on discovering the accomplishments of holistic, integrated classrooms (Enz & Searfoss, 1993, p. 6).


The Impact of Evaluation: Teachers, administrators, and students

Teacher evaluations affect everyone in the school system, directly or inadvertently. Teachers’ stress levels may increase due to the fear of poor performance or receiving a bad report. Students in the class during an evaluation may feel that they are being evaluated as well and may either become more engaged in the class or may avoid giving input, asking questions, or participating in discussions as much. Administrators, especially those who directly carry out the evaluations, may be stressed by the number of evaluations or might be concerned with making sure the evaluation is a fair assessment. Teacher evaluations may also create a strange relationship between teachers and administrators, increasing tensions on both sides. The positive impacts of teacher evaluation outweigh the negatives and are much more important for the well-being of the students. Proper evaluation of teachers allows the administration to determine which teachers are beneficial to the students. An extremely significant duty of the administration is to maintain a school wide, productive learning atmosphere for all students. Accurate and honest teacher evaluation is an essential part of maintaining an efficient school system.


What happens after evaluation?

Once the teacher is evaluated by the administrator, decisions regarding the teacher’s performance will be made based on the results. The teacher’s quality is judged based on his or her own personal performance, and how the students benefited from the teacher. This calls for two main types of assessment, formative and summative (Harris, 2007, p. 2). Formative assessment is on-going throughout the year, which includes the periodic announced and unannounced teacher and classroom evaluations (FCIT, 2007, “Classroom Assessment”). The summative assessment refers to the end-of-the-year compilation of retrieved data to come to a conclusion about the teacher’s overall performance and effectiveness (FCIT, 2007). These assessments are also used to monitor the students’ progress throughout the year, and how beneficial the teacher’s instructional methods were to them. Beginning in 2001, with the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, schools have shifted toward evaluating the teachers based on the students’ results more so than individual performance and characteristics (Harris, 2007, p. 3). Even though the NCLB law has put more focus on holding schools accountable for students’ success rather than individual teachers, the pressures were designed to “trickle down” and influence the actions of the teachers (Harris, 2007, p. 4).


Universal Evaluation Practices

The process of teacher evaluation should be somewhat universal in order to provide fair and just treatment of teachers. Teach for America (TFA), a national teacher corps of recent college graduates, developed an evaluation instrument called the Performance Assessment Instrument (PAI) (Johnson & Jones, 1998, p.1). The main ideas that the instrument is based on are the extent to which the teacher has attained the goals established in student learning and growth, and the means by which the teacher has impacted student learning and growth (Johnson & Jones, 1998, p. 1).


Conclusion

Teacher evaluation plays a monumental role in the educational experience of students, in the proficiency of school systems, and in the society as a whole. The school administrations must deliver evaluations that effectively assess the teacher’s abilities, interactivity, and the resulting success of the students. Proper teacher evaluations allow successful teachers to teach and lead the students who will become the future of society.


Reference List

Enz, Billie J. & Searfoss, Lyndon W. (1993). Who Evaluates Teacher Performance? Mismatched Paradigms, the Status Quo, the Missed Opportunities. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/13/15/cb.pdf

Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT). (2007). Classroom Assessment. Retrieved January 31, 2008, from http://fcit.usf.edu/assessment/basic/basica.html

Harris, Douglas N. (2007, November 16,). The Policy Uses and “Policy Validity” of Value-Added and Other Teacher Quality Measures. Retrieved January 28, 2008, from http://www.teacherqualityresearch.org/policy.pdf

Johnson, Kathleen F. & Jones, Ellen M. (1998). Promoting Teaching Excellence: A comparison of two performance-based teacher assessment frameworks. Retrieved January 29, 2008, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3673/is_199807/ai_n8803461

Spokane. (2007). Teacher Evaluation. Retrieved February 1, 2008 from http://www.dioceseofspokane.org/policies/HR/Appendix%20II/TeacherEvaluations.htm


Multiple-choice questions

1.) Which of the following requirements would be the best for teacher evaluations?

a. They all must be announced and scheduled.

b. They can only be unannounced and unscheduled.

c. They can be either announced and schedule or unannounced and unscheduled.

d. They are all unannounced.


2.) Why would school administrators feel that it is unnecessary to change or augment their teacher evaluation system if their effective teachers always did well on evaluations?

a. Effective teachers would “top out” regardless.

b. Too much time and effort.

c. Teachers comfortable with existing system.

d. Fear of more strict policies and regulations.


3.) Why would teachers prepare a direct instruction lesson for their evaluation, even if they'd rather teach more holistically?

a. Because they support the direct instruction model.

b. Simply to please the biased principal and pass the evaluation.

c. Because the principal held strong holistic, integrated beliefs.

d. Because the students preferred direct instruction.


4.) Summative assessment is used as:

a. Evaluation of growth at the end of the year.

b. On-going, periodic evaluation to measure growth.

c. A measurement of absences throughout the school year.

d. A way to monitor behavioral problems.


5.) Formative assessment is used as:

a. Evaluation of growth at the end of the year.

b. On-going, periodic evaluation to measure growth.

c. A measurement of absences throughout the school year.

d. A way to monitor behavioral problems.


Answer Key

1. C

2. A

3. B

4. A

5. B