Dr. Hans Andrews is the Distinguished Fellow in Community College Leadership through Olney Central College in Olney, Illinois. He is a former president of the college. He also served as Dean of Instruction at Illinois Valley Community College and Vice President for Community and Student Services at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan. He was an adjunct teacher for Illinois State University and a business teacher-counselor in two secondary schools.
Teacher evaluation does much to improve instruction in our schools if it is properly defined as to purpose, developed and communicated alongside the faculty in the school district. The intended outcomes of evaluation need to be focused on assisting each teacher through ‘formative’ evaluation.
Formative refers to assisting the teacher to make adjustments that will improve his or her classroom preparation and organization, and communication with their students in the class or classroom that the teacher works in daily. Formative evaluation continues to be important as teachers’ progress throughout their careers.
One teacher’s perspective of formative evaluation
The following is taken from an interview with a teacher on how formative evaluation support made a difference in her teaching:
Interviewer: How did the evaluation system assist you?
Teacher: It assisted me by making me aware that the student is responsible for part of the teaching-learning process. I learned I was giving so much information that the students were frustrated. I also learned what was expected of me.
Interviewer: How did you feel when supervisors (evaluators) offered to assist you?
Teacher: I was relieved. My supervisors informed me of their expectations of my work. This gave me guidelines and ideas on how to improve my teaching. I used these ideas and guidelines and now feel good about what I am doing. I now knew what I needed to do to improve my teaching.
Interviewer: When did you feel it was starting to make a difference in your teaching?
Teacher: Recommendations included, don’t stand behind the podium, SMILE! Ask questions of my students. Before this, I was so exhausted from the extensive preparation I was doing I did not put this together on my own. I needed to hear it from someone else.
Summative evaluation is used when a decision is made to not continue a teacher who has refused or have proved unable to respond to improvements offered by evaluator(s) during their formative evaluations.
An evaluator’s experience in leading to a summative evaluation outcome
The following case describes a teacher who had been receiving advice from his early evaluation visitations. Classroom teaching concerns had been outlined and discussed with the teacher by both evaluators who had visited his classes. After some initial improvements the instructor regressed to his prior identified areas of deficiency. Here are some of the comments from the evaluations that were given both verbally and in writing as evaluations continued.
Evaluator: The test was passed back but you did not review it except for one question. Students continued to raise their hands but you gave an indication you would take no further questions. You also need to pace your material and start having student involvement during your lecture material. Students became very passive as you continued lecturing without involving students for input and understanding. You also need to come into the classroom on time!
Instructor: I will work to make some of these improvements.
Evaluator (four evaluations later): I was disappointed with your lecture. You again did not involve your students. You came to class unprepared as we had found in previous evaluations. You need to speed things up and make them more interesting. I did not observe any constructive changes in your teaching methods from a year ago. You have continued to not respond making the changes to improve your teaching that has been suggested. This has been the case now for your three-year non-tenure period.
This instructor was informed that he would not be offered tenure (or long-term contract) and he tendered his resignation.
If the administrators who are tasked with teacher evaluation have not been teachers in their previous experiences, consideration needs to be given to utilizing quality teachers within the institution to assist in the evaluations. Another option is to seek out recently retired quality teachers to be hired back to assist in the evaluation of teachers in their area of competencies in their teaching.
Expectations of teachers
The following are some of the expectations that teachers should have to come out of an evaluation system:
- Competent evaluators
- A clear understanding of the evaluation system and evaluation instruments
- Input into setting up and/or improving the system
- Feedback from the evaluator in a relatively short time to alleviate anxiety
- Have the ability to express disagreement (both orally and in writing)
- Be given a reasonable amount of time to make improvements and/or remediate weaknesses
- Recognition for excellence in teaching
- Privacy of results except when a state calls for governing board action on a ‘notice to remediate’ and or moving to a dismissal of personnel
Intended outcomes of a quality evaluation system
Figure 1 shows graphically what should be the outcomes of a quality evaluation system in a school district.
- The right hand side of what is referred to in Psychology as the normal curve represents how ‘above average instruction’ will move more teachers into the ‘excellent instruction’ category.
- The left hand side of the curve should end up eliminating the ‘poor instruction’ category.
- The center two tops on the curves show how a much larger part of ‘average instruction’ will move to ‘above average’ instruction.
The importance of quality evaluation and quality evaluators of teachers cannot be overstated. During the Pandemic years evaluation of teachers appear to have taken a back seat on many areas of the world. Teachers who were not of high quality were continued, and may be continued as teachers as there is an international shortage that is reaching a crisis.
Summary statement: This article shows the importance of improving evaluation of teachers and how it can, if properly administered, can and will, improve instruction for our students everywhere.
Evaluation: the system of determining the merit, value, and worth of someone (the person, such as a teacher) being evaluated:
- Formative Teacher Evaluation: An evaluation conducted for the purpose of improving the teacher through identifying that teacher’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Summative Teacher Evaluation: An evaluation conducted primarily for the purpose of making personnel decision about the teacher (e.g., improved pay or deduction, reassignment, promotion, dismissal, or tenure/or/long-term employment decision).
Definitions retrieved at the Teacher Evaluation Kit Glossary ERIC – ED363977 – Teacher Evaluation Glossary., 1992-Aug