Best conditions for teacher appraisal

Nieuws | de redactie
13 maart 2013 | While Rabia Bouzian, ScienceGuide Student of the Year 2009, was teaching in the Glassroom about her peer-coach project for students at the Hogeschool Rotterdam, the international delegates of the ISTP were debating the potential use and misuse of teacher feedback and appraisal systems.

According to Barbara Ischinger, director of Education and Skills at OECD, a good system for evaluation and appraisal is welcome: “According to our research most of the teachers are very positive regarding feedback from their peers. They claim that good evaluation has a significant impact on their career and development as a professional. Public appraisal from principals and peers can give a strong boost for their self-esteem.”

Ischinger says this form of appraisal is given too little attention and continuity. “1 in 4 teachers says they have never been given feedback on their performance.”

Dutch Education minister and ISTP-host Jet Bussemaker is a great proponent of peer review as she said earlier on ScienceGuide: “I think we should use that more effectively in schools. Right now, as we all at this Summit try to learn from each other, teachers should also learn more from their peers.”

Creativity, inspiration and courage in teaching

Although some teacher appraisal and evaluation is being welcomed, many delegates see difficulties regarding to the practical form of peer reviews. OECD-expert Andreas Schleicher therefore asked the delegates who will be responsible for defining the concept of a good teacher. What is ‘good’? And who should determine that? To illustrate, a fragment of the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’ is shown as an example of creativity, inspiration and courage in teaching. But how to measure that in quantitative terms?

“Professional development has to be a starting point for appraisal. It should not be a settlement instrument,” says Andreas Schleicher.  US-delegate Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers, warns that linking student learning outcomes, emphatically used in New York, to appraisal can have counterproductive effects. Of course, terrifying teachers is not a way to increase teacher effectiveness.

John Bangs from Education International sees similar risks: “Appraisal and evaluation impact can become a witch hunt. A bad appraisal system is worse than no appraisal system.” For Bangs it is important that appraisal should be enhancing self-efficacy, confidence and skills. Furthermore it should be trusted by the teachers and have a clear purpose.  On a sheet Bangs, co-author of ‘Reinventing Schools, Reforming Teaching’, sums up the best conditions for an appraisal system.

The optimum conditions for appraisal

–          Where teacher appraisal schemes are introduced they should be developed and agreed with teachers and their organisations.

–          Where introduced, schemes should be part of teacher policies which have been agreed with teachers and their organisations

–          The aim of appraisal should be to enhance self-efficacy, confidence and skills

–          Appraisal should deliver high quality professional development and career development

–          Appraisal should be trusted by teachers and its purpose should be clear

–          In dialogue with the school and wider community the teaching profession should determine any school standards.

One of the many teachers at the Summit, thanks to the Dutch Touch, said that he doesn’t know whether peer review and appraisal are the Holy Grail of education today. But, as he said, “if you’re serious about this, just give us the time. Because right now with our workload, we cannot afford this.”


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