What would the old schoolmarm say about new teacher evaluation systems?

by Melany Gallant | Posted | Performance Management

What would the old schoolmarm say about new teacher evaluation systems?

Frankly, probably not much. The fact is, we’ve come a long way from the single-room red-brick schoolhouse run by a schoolmarm in sensible lace-up Oxford shoes. And so have teacher evaluations for that matter.

In fact, it’s probably safe to say they didn’t even have teacher evaluations back then. But that was then and this is now.

Today, the role of the teacher is pretty clear cut. High-quality teaching is essential to improving student outcomes and reducing gaps in student achievement.

Now, admittedly, I’m no teacher. I can only imagine how much pressure these dedicated individuals are under to perform — and keep performing.

Not unlike the pupils they mentor, teachers must constantly develop the knowledge and the skills required to help students perform to the best of their abilities. But how can school districts determine if teachers are making the grade or bucking for a detention in terms of performance?

Hey, I can answer that one (*waves arm enthusiastically skyward*):

By adopting talent management best-practices, complete with teacher evaluations that are collaborative, ensure consistency and drive professional development.

A school district gets top marks

Some school districts are turning to new automated teacher evaluation processes that drive student achievement, support teachers and improve schools.

Take Colorado’s Douglas County School District, for example. In an effort to make the School District’s process for assessing teacher performance more meaningful, and to drive accountability for performance, the HR team overhauled its talent management process, and automated its program.

The result is that the District is now accountable to its key stakeholders — employees and supervisors, students and parents, the Board of Education and taxpayers. The District also projected savings to exceed $10 000 a year in the elimination of paper processing alone.

A+ or barely passing? How good is your teacher evaluation system?

Effective teacher evaluation systems should provide meaningful appraisals. The process should encourage professional learning and growth, foster teacher development and identify opportunities for additional support (where needed, of course).

That said, how can schools make sure that that their teacher evaluation processes are delivering results?

And now for… a high-level tutorial

To ensure your educational institution is delivering quality education and being accountable to your stakeholders, you need to make sure your staff — from principals to administrators, teachers, educators and service staff — are competent, efficient, and meeting or exceeding performance expectations.

Here are just a few ideas that can help everyone, not just teachers in your institution, “stand and deliver”:

  • Give teachers and staff the richly detailed feedback they need to continually improve
  • Identify performance gaps and development needs
  • Motivate and reward staff with pay-for-performance programs
  • Proactively manage staff training, development and certification
  • Easily establish, align and manage goals, so everyone is focused on success
  • Get a clear, strategic view of workforce potential, strengths and weaknesses, and special skills

Where do you start?

Like any learning we undertake in life, it’s critical that we do our homework first (and old schoolmarm would definitely agree with me on this one).

If you are considering a new approach to teacher appraisals, consider a system that can adapt to the framework your institution is using. I also invite you to take a look at these sample teacher evaluation forms. These forms were written by K-12 performance management experts, and provide a starting point for boards, districts and appraisers looking to evaluate teacher performance and raise student achievement.

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