Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Administration/Personnel Evaluation
It is common knowledge that by becoming a teacher your work, dedication, and your ability will somehow be evaluated. Even though every teacher must be evaluated in some form it is hard to decide exactly how to evaluate teachers. Should it be through peer evaluation or by interviews and observations of the administration? There are many ways to evaluate teachers and it is important to create a simple but effective system of evaluation that can be understood not only by principals and superintendents but by parents as well. It is important that we first take a look at exactly what an evaluation does and it “builds a written record for the performance of duties outlined in the job description. They should also be a reaffirmation of the skills and strengths the employee brings to the job, and may include a positive plan for personal improvement.”(National Education Association) This outline is the basis for what most administrators should be looking for when deciding on how to evaluate.
Types of Evaluation
There are two types of evaluation that we as teachers should be concerned about. The first is the formative method of evaluation and the second is the summative form of evaluation.
Formative evaluation is the method of judging the worth of a program while the program activities are forming or happening. (SIL International, 1999) This definition translates into constant evaluation through out the marking period, semester, or trimester. Its benefits are that through constant evaluation your teachers could possibly have more control over their classroom be more adept to the performance of their students and have better rapport with the administration. The problem with this type of evaluation is that it does not allow for new teachers to be come comfortable with their teaching style and how it works without being judged right in the beginning of their new job.
Summative evaluation is the method of judging the worth of a program at the end of program activities. The focus is on the outcome. (SIL International, 1999) While using a summative type of evaluation the teacher is allowed a little more time to find out which way the students learn without having to have the pressure of a constant evaluation system on his/her hands judging and marking them right off the bat. It allows for new teachers to become comfortable in their environments without having to be pressured by early and constant evaluations. The downside to this type is that without constant evaluation it allows for bad teachers to be able to still have jobs even though they are under performing. Another downside is that as long as the teacher’s students have good grades at the end of the term the administration cannot tell if he/she is doing a bad job.
How to Evaluate Personnel
There are many types of evaluations that can be used to get a better understanding of how teachers are progressing and if they are doing their job correctly. These include observations, third party evaluations, interviews, and surveys and questionnaires all of these add their own different points on how well a teacher is teaching.
When talking about observations it is important to realize that the majority of school districts in the U.S. only use observations of 1-3 times a year as their main evaluation process. (England) These observations are usually done by the main administrator and by no one else. This is an out of date technique considering that teaching methods and teaching styles have changed dramatically within the last two decades. With the improvement of technology in the classroom as well as the understanding of different types of learning by students it is important to the school district as a whole to have more then one person do all the evaluating and more then 1-3 times a year. In fact a article found in the National Education Association website by a psychology professor and education researcher James Stigler we see a new innovative way to make observations happen more efficiently and often just by using a new video taping software. “Teachers have videotaped lessons for a long time, but the Lesson Lab software has taken this to a new level. Because the lessons are digitized and time coded, teachers can talk about specific incidents and watch them again without spending time getting to the right place on a tape. The software lets a teacher-observer watch someone else's lesson after school or at home, make notes on specific incidents, and share those notes with other people, either remotely or face-to-face.”(National Education Association)Whether or not this new innovation gets used around the world is not our concern but with this creation we are seeing a more effective way of evaluating teachers and also a new way of allowing more people to become involved in the evaluation system which is a very important aspect that gets pushed to the side to often. While doing the actual observations the observer should be looking for “organizational skills, communication ability, classroom product in the form of student achievement, ability to instigate meaningful and focused work in the classroom, and use of those affective components which reinforce teaching effectiveness.”(Lewy) The observer whether it is a principal or another teacher should also be aware of how the students are responding to the teacher’s style of education and write down constructive criticism or positive enforcement accordingly. I emphasize using observations more then three times a year because by going into the classroom and observing teachers it is easier for the school system as a whole to determine if a teacher is doing their job properly. Also by using more then just the administrator as the main evaluator you allow the opportunity to have more observations of more teachers in a shorter time period as well as a check on the observers that they are not being bias in any way at all.
Interviewers “should be counsel from principals and other administrators and parents.”(Boyd) Interviews are the first step of evaluation when becoming a teacher and should be used more then that one time alone. In order to be hired as a teacher in a school district it is important to make a good first impression upon your future employers and we do this by interview. “Interviews can be used and should be used at least twice throughout the year and these should be done by administrators and by parents.”(England) Whether it is an administrator or a parents doing the interview they should have the same questions just in different contexts. While the parent only wants to know about their child the administrator should be concerned with the class as a whole. Interviews can give a inside look on how the teacher feels about their job and if they still have the same enthusiasm as they did when they had the first interview that lead to them getting the job. These inside looks from the parent’s perspective as well as the administrators should be looked at together in deciding not only how the interview went but if the goals and concerns are on track between the school system and the parent community. By evaluating through interviews the school district and parents get a sense of just how the teacher is teaching and if they are making accommodations for special circumstances such as learning disabilities.
Questionnaires and Surveys
Another important form of evaluation is questionnaires and surveys. By using these items we as teachers can keep a constant filing system or record of how our students perceive our teaching methods. Also by using these kinds of records the administration can take a look of how exactly the students feel about the way teachers teach. These surveys and questionnaires can be given out by the teacher to their students as well as by the administrator to the parents. The surveys should be a more detailed approach of how the child’s educational growth has increased or decreased since coming into the teachers class.(Peterson) When using questionnaires towards students the teacher can get back numerous 1st hand accounts of the effectiveness of their own teaching styles. If these surveys are given out consistently through out the school year the teacher can find it easier to have the majority of their students succeed in the classroom. Also by doing this Administrators can look at what the students think of their teachers and make decisions upon a different kind of peer evaluation without causing conflict between teachers and the administration. By keeping conflict between the administration and teachers out of the equation the school district can see a better form of education and cooperation in the school.
When evaluating by performance of the student on tests it becomes easier for the administration as well as the parents to track a child’s progress. The downside to this of course is the fact that some students who are exceptionally smart can have problems on standardized testing. “It is absolutely wrong to use only post-instruction test scores, such as grade level tests or state benchmark test scores, for any kind of teacher evaluation. Because of the wide variability of student responsiveness to teaching, it is essential to adjust observed achievement in students according to information about students prior to the teacher effects of interest.”(Sanders) So even though it is a proper form of evaluation it does not take into account the actual ability for a student to learn. If used properly though together with all the other forms of evaluation it can become a very effective part of the evaluation system. So student performance can be an effective way to evaluate a teacher when used in compilation with other forms of evaluation.
When asking the question how personnel should be evaluated? It is important to remember that evaluation should be looked at as a multi step process in which performance flexibility of the teacher and structure and ability need to be taken into account. If all these measures are not involved in the process the evaluation system as a whole will be inaccurate. So by using questionnaires, surveys, observations, and interviews as well as picking a timely form of evaluation the administration as well as the parents can get an accurate view of how teachers are performing at the amazing task of shaping our youths future.
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- Peterson, K.D. (2000). Teacher evaluation: A comprehensive guide to new directions and practices (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Sanders, W.L. (2000). Value-added assessment from student achievement data: Opportunities and hurdles. Jason Millman Award Speech. CREATE National Evaluation Institute, San Jose, CA. July 21.
- Boyd, Ronald T. C. (1989). ERIC Clearinghouse on Tests Measurement and Evaluation Washington DC., American Institutes for Research Washington DC. Found at http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-9213/teacher.htm
- Bill England (South River Board of education member since 2005)
- Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Copyright 1997-2007 found at http://www.managementhelp.org/evaluatn/fnl_eval.htm
- LinguaLinks Library, Version 4.0, published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 1999.