Teacher evaluation is a complex process. It is a series of activities and actions that are interconnected and ultimately related to a specific purpose. Day to day, teachers deal with complex problems and from this, they should be evaluated as professionals which means that their standards should be developed by their peers and their evaluation in turn focus on the degree in which they solve professional problems. While not always true, the emphasis of these evaluations should be on their ability to teach and not them as sole individuals, while taking into consideration the involvement of the overall educational process.
The general rule of thumb is that the evaluation process typically involves preparation, observation, data collecting, reporting and most importantly, follow-up. Though each of these serves a specific purpose throughout the overall evaluation process, when missing just one, an ineffective evaluation systems being to resonate. Over time, ineffective teacher evaluation systems have become more costly than effective overall strategies. In most cases, teacher evaluation programs contain inferior material because they neither improve a teacher’s instructional skill, nor do they permit the dismissal of incompetent teachers. These points bring into clear perspective the need for effective teacher evaluation policies, and the need for boards and administrators to examine these practices with a view to improve learning opportunities across different situations.
Back in 2001, Patricia Hopkins became superintendent of the Five Town CSD and Maine School Administrative District #28 in Camden & Rockport with one of her first tasks being to review summative evaluations of all the teachers in the two districts. What she discovered troubled her, but yet this did not surprise her at the same time. As she read through the evaluations, she found that many were full of "valentines" - her word for vague, meaningless praise - and largely deprived of constructive criticism or concrete feedback. Hopkins believed that teacher evaluation held great potential to improve instruction, so she set out to "eliminate the valentines" by strengthening the culture and structures supporting teacher evaluation in district schools (Kane, Taylor, Tyler, & Wooten, 2010).
In recent years, the spotlight on teacher evaluation has intensified. For myself, this was something of a topic that I initially gave little to no accountability towards until viewing “Waiting For Superman” this semester. With this inside look into an exhaustive review of public education with it’s methodically dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems, now more than ever is the overall review of teacher’s performance a must in our academic communities. With dissecting that the teacher’s effect on student learning and achievement, practitioners, policymakers, and researchers are beginning to call for boosting the judgment and quality of a teacher’s evaluation. From this, we are starting to see the track record for evaluation and how the increasing consensus that teacher evaluation could play an important part in improving teaching and learning.
During the last wave of efforts to strengthen teacher evaluation back in the 1980s, most initiatives died on the spot. This time around, however, there may be cause for more optimism. Key changes in the education world may make it easier for broad-scale improvement efforts to take hold. Moreover, some schools and districts, like those Hopkins leads, have already taken steps to more tightly link teacher evaluation with instructional improvement and increased student learning, along with implementing real consequences for those who perform superbly - and for other teachers who perform poorly.
Time and again, analyses of summative evaluation ratings of teacher’s show that the vast majority of teachers in any school, district, or state are rated above - sometimes well above - average...
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