Teacher Evaluation Policies and Practices
A summary of a thesis by Rick Sawa (1995)

SSTA Research Centre Report #95-04: 68 pages, $14.

Introduction Teacher evaluation systems are deemed by most school administrators and teachers to be extremely stressful, of little or no value, and a barrier to high staff morale. This report provides a review of the literature with a list of criteria and recommendations for an effective teacher evaluation process.
PART I: Toward An Effective Teacher Evaluation Policy - A Review of the Literature

What is Teacher Evaluation?

Why Should Teacher Evaluation be Conducted?

How to Deal with Incompetent Teachers

How Could Teacher Evaluation be Performed?

The Development and Revision of a Teacher Evaluation Policy

PART II: Where Are We Now? - An Analysis of 47 Saskatchewan Rural School Divisions
PART III: Looking Ahead - Implications for Administrative and Board Action

The Common Problems

Critical Attributes of Effective Teacher Evaluation Programs

Criteria for Effective Teacher Evaluation Policy

Recommendations for Further Research

Recommendations for Practice

Concluding Remarks

Back to: Instruction

The SSTA Research Centre grants permission to reproduce up to three copies of each report for personal use. Each copy must acknowledge the author and the SSTA Research Centre as the source. A complete and authorized copy of each report is available from the SSTA Research Centre.
The opinions and recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author and may not be in agreement with SSTA officers or trustees, but are offered as being worthy of consideration by those responsible for making decisions.


Ineffective teacher evaluation systems are more costly than effective

ones. Shoddy teacher evaluation programs, because they neither improve

teachers' instructional skills nor permit the dismissal of incompetent teachers, rob

children of the achievements, when well-taught, they have the potential to obtain

(Stanley & Popham, 1988). Conventional teacher evaluation, warns Barth (1990),

often resembles a meaningless ritual. "Or even worse, it becomes a recurring

occasion to heighten anxiety and distance between teacher and administrator, and

competition between teacher and teacher" (p. 56). In short, it minimizes dialogue,

reinforces institutional hierarchies, and risks poisoning otherwise productive

working relationships among school professionals.

The appraisal of teaching performance is as old as the education

profession (Rehore, 1991). Few issues in education have the potential to generate

as much heat for educators as the evaluation of teachers (Gitlin & Smyth, 1989).

These points bring into clear perspective the need for effective teacher evaluation

policy, and the need for boards and administrators to examine policies with a

view to improving learning opportunities in their various classrooms.

This document provides a summary of the research literature associated

with teacher evaluation. It also reports a study (Saw, 1994) in which teacher

evaluation policies of 47 rural Saskatchewan school divisions were analyzed on

the basis of 17 criteria for effective teacher evaluation policy generated from a

variety of literature sources. The effectiveness of these policies is discussed and

implications for administrative and board action are presented.

This document concludes with a teacher evaluation policy assessment

categorization instrument (Appendix B) that a Board of Education could utilize to

assess the effectiveness of its policy on evaluating teachers or to refer to if the

Board was interested in developing one. Also, included in the appendices, are

other practical applications for teacher evaluation.



Table of Contents

What is Teacher Evaluation?

Teacher evaluation is a complex process. It is a series of activities and

actions that are interconnected and relate to a specific purpose. Since teachers

deal with complex problems, they should be evaluated as professionals which

means that their standards should be developed by their peers and their evaluation

should focus on the degree to which they solve professional problems

competently (Soar, Medley, dk Coker, 1983). The emphasis of their evaluation

should be on their teaching and not on them as individuals (Findley & Estabrook,

1991) and take into consideration the involvement and responsiveness of others

involved in the education process (Weade & Evertson, 1991).

The evaluation process usually involves preparation, observation, data

collection, reporting, and follow-up. Data collection normally entails a formal

observation which is preceded by a pre-conference and followed by a post-

conference. The utilization of formal observations does not mean informal

observations are ignored. Many unannounced visits usually prove to be more

effective than a few announced visits. However. there are limitations to classroom

observations as an assessment method. DarlinB-Hammond, in Mitchell, Wise, &

Plake (1990), warns:

They reveal little about the coherence of the curriculum, the

depth and breadth of content covered, the range of teaching

techniques used, the quality and variety of materials employed,

the types and frequency of students '

assi gnments, the quality of instruments used for student

assessment, the kinds of feedback students receive an their work,

or the appropriateness of any of these things for individual

students and for the classroom context as a whole. (p. 158)

Teacher evaluation should be a small but significant part of the larger strategy for

school improvement (Mitchell et al., 1990) which would see staff development

take place prior to evaluations (Wood & Lease, 1987).

Teacher evaluations should be dialogical rather than hierarchical (Gitlin

& Smyth, 1989). The division of labour between those who determine what is to

be taught and when and how it is to be taught and those who teach must be

addressed, because teacher-proofing curriculum and instructional strategies is in

direct opposition to treating teachers as professionals. Evaluators should know the

subject matter, pedagogy, and classroom characteristics of the teacher being

evaluated (McGeachy, 1992), as well as take into consideration the fact that

experienced and excellent teachers are capable of pedagogical performances that

educational theory and research can neither explain nor predict (Shulman, 1987).

These risk-takers and innovators must be encouraged not stifled. Consequently,

any effort to define standards for teaching and to operationalize them in an

evaluation must reach beyond the judgment of academic experts. Therefore, we

need a form of evaluation that will reflect

a more enlightened view of teaching, that will inspire teacher

educators to aim higher in creating their curricula and

designing their pro grams, and that will, in the very process of

being implemented through supervised residencies in the

schools, introduce new forms of mentoring, collaboration, and

collegiality. (Shulman, 1987, p.44)

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Why Should Teacher Evaluation Be


The general purpose of teacher evaluation is to safeguard and improve the

quality of instruction received by students (Kremer, 1988) so boards must provide

a process that allows and encourages supervisors and teachers to work together to

improve and enhance classroom instructional practices. According to the literature there are six main

purposes of teacher evaluation.

l. It should strive to improve instruction by fostering

self-development (Rebore, 1991) and peer assistance.

2. Staff development activities can be rated and identified (Stanley

dk Popham, 1988).

3. The selection process can be validated (McGreal,


4. A well-designed, properly functioning teacher evaluation process provides

a major communication link between the school system and teachers

(Walsh, 1987).

5. Personnel decisions such as retention, transfer, tenure, promotion,

demotion, and dismissal can be enhanced through an effective

evaluation process (Kremer, 1988).

6. Teacher evaluation is capable of protecting students from incompetent

teachers by bringing structured assistance to marginal teachers (Stanley 2

Popham, 1988). Since there are no clear-cut standards for judging

incompetence, multiple indicators must be utilized to identify marginal

teachers (Bridges, 1986). When found, marginal teachers should be

required to enter an intensive assistance program as found in Appendix


Table of Contents

How To Deal With Incompetent Teachers

Although incompetent teachers may constitute only 2-3% (Fullan dk

Hargreaves, 1991) of the teaching force, they tarnish the reputation of the entire

profession, shortchange many students, and engender parental dissatisfaction with

the public schools (Bridges, 1986). However, the diKculties which incompetent

teachers experience in the classroom often stem from multiple causes:

1. the personal shortcomings of the teacher,

2. non-job related influences, and

3. the limitations or failings of supervisors (Bridges,

1986, p.16).

Administrators are obligated to confront poor teacher

performance (Dennis, 1990). Poor performance is marked by excess -

1. excessive lack of preparation;

2. excessive deficiencies of teaching skills;

3. excessive problems of student control;

4. excessive manifestations of poor judgment; and

5. excessive absence from school (p.15).

Bridges (1986) further states that there are four different means

to identify incompetent teachers:

Incompetent teachers tarnish the

reputation of the entire

profession, short-change many

students, and engender parental

dissatisfaction with the public


1. supervisory observations,

2. complaints from parents or students, (Bridges, 1986)

3. complaints from other teachers, and

4. student test results.

Given the limitations of each indicator, the reliance on multiple

measures appears to represent a sound practice. Cangelosi (1991)

describes a marginal teacher as an experienced teacher whose instruction

is deemed by a supervisor to constitute malpractice and, consequently,

whose dismissal from his or her position should be considered.

Dennis (1990) further claims that confrontation is a process

rather than a single event. It requires thought, preparation, and planning

and should not be rushed. The following twelve steps are recommended

(Dennis, 1990):

1. Gather information

2. Talk to others

3. Organize your information

4. Wait for a specific incident

5. Schedule a meeting with the teacher

6. Meet with the teacher

7. Write the meeting up - letter to teacher summarizing the meeting

8. Monitor the situation

9. Develop a file

10. Help the teacher to improve

11. Demonstrate your on-going concern

12. Work with your teacher union

If a teacher does not meet minimal accountability standards, he or she

should enter an intensive assistance program (Dagley & Orso, 1991). An

agreement between the teacher and supervisor, in which the teacher agrees to

improve and the supervisor agrees to provide resources to help the teacher

improve, should be the first step of the intensive assistance program. Conley

(1987) states that the dismissal mode is reached only after effort has first been

made to remediate the individual's performance because unemployment

detrimentally affects the welfare of an employee and his/her dependents (Rebore,

1991). Cangelosi (1991) best sums up the serious consequences of the practice of

retaining incompetent teachers:

Teaching malpractice continues to victimize students by wasting

their opportunities to learn, society by failing to provide a service

for which it paid, teachers by perpetuating their failures, and the

teaching profession by diluting quality, contaminating its ranks,

and tarnishing its image, thus causing it to lose its

political power. (p.188)

Table of Contents

How Could Teacher Evaluation be


Various models of teacher evaluation have been offered.

McGreal (1983) categorizes them into four main models: Common Law,

Goal Setting, Product, and Artistic or Naturalistic. Gitlin dk Smyth

(1989) neatly package them into two main categories: educative and

dominant, with Walsh (1987) calling them participative and controlling.

Gitlin and Smyth (1989) would classify McGreal's Common Law, Goal

Setting, and Product models as dominant and Walsh (1987) would

classify them as controlling because they are individually focused,

judgmental, and hierarchical. Processes of evaluation like those promoted

by people like Madeline Hunter, that make lavish claims to being

scientific and research-based, are really nothing more than ways of

"bolstering corporate, institutional, and bureaucratic interests" (Smyth,

1991, p. 70). "I tried to follow the letter and spirit of 'The Hunter Model'

as we trudged through each part of our teacher evaluation system, hut it

just wasn't working" (Rooney, 1993, p. 43). By concentrating exclusively

on the technical aspects of good teaching, they divert attention away from

"an analysis of the economic, social, and political hierarchies that

maintain and perpetuate inequality and injustice" (Smyth, 1991, p. 70).

Critlin & Smyth (1989) and Walsh (1987) would also catalogue

McGreal's Artistic or Naturalistic model as a transitional stage Bergen

the dominant, controlling models and their educative, participative model

which they claim is collectively focused, developmental, and

cooperative. Unless methods of teacher evaluation explicitly challenge the

authoritarian, commodified view of teaching, teachers will continue to be

"blamed for problems that more accurately reflect the priorities and

failings of oar economic system" (Gitlin dk Smyth, 1989, p. 25). Moving

involvement in teacher evaluation beyond individual teachers means that

the evaluation of teachers can be shifted from one of blaming the teacher

for educational problems to a circumstance in which the wider

community begins to accept its legitimate responsibility and role in

setting, debating, and monitoring the agenda, norms, and goals of schools.

The educative and participative model, if used wisely, could reduce

the need for dominant, accountability forms of teacher evaluation (Gitlin &

Smyth, 1989; Walsh, 1987). However, the educative, participative model

cannot be mandated from above.

It is no longer acceptable to judge teaching ability according to a set of pre-

determined criteria. Twenty-first century conceptions of school reform and the

professionalization of teaching cannot co-exist with early twentieth-century models

of evaluation, especially when these afford unacceptably simplistic notions of

teaching (Shulman, 1988). The true test of approaches to evaluation will be whether

or not they contribute to the needed reforms of teaching and teacher education. If

evaluation does not become part of the solution, then it surely will become part of

the problem (Shulman, 1987).

Table of Contents

The Development or Revision of a

Teacher Evaluation Policy

In an examination of the literature relating to teacher evaluation,

Saw (1994) identified 17 criteria, illustrated in Figure 1, against which

existing policies could be assessed. A convenient policy assessment

categorization instrument, devised for this purpose, can be found in

Appendix B. As mentioned previously it is advisable to include all

stockholders in the process of developing or reviewing a policy.

Table of Contents

Where Are We Now?: An Analysis of 47 Rural

Saskatchewan School Divisions

The Saw (1994) study subjected the teacher evaluation policies of 47

rural Saskatchewan school divisions to assessment via the criteria in Figure 1, in

order to determine the degree to which aspects of effective teacher evaluation

policy were reflected in specific system contexts. The ratings, simply based upon

a reading as to whether or not the policy met each criteria, are summarized in

Table 1.

From the data in Table 1, it can be seen that 98 per cent of the responding

divisions provided clear identification of who was responsible for teacher

evaluation; 85 per cent distinguished between tenured and non-tenured teachers;

83 per cent stated the purpose(s) of teacher evaluation; while 79 per cent of the

policies provided a statement of teacher standards and 70 per cent articulated the

philosophy of the board regarding teacher evaluation. However, several

characteristics were not addressed by significant numbers of policies. For

example, only 9 per cent of the policies had provision for evaluator training; 11

per cent provided training for evaluates; 11 per cent specifically earmarked

financial support for teacher evaluations; and 17 per cent addressed a grievance

process for evaluates.

In addition, the alignment of the evaluation process with staff

development was clearly enunciated in only 34 percent of the policies. When it

came to such provisions as assistance for marginal teachers (404/%), emphasis on

self-development (57%), and allowance for written responses for evaluates

(60%), policies were fairly evenly split.

The extent to which the policies met the established criteria for effective

teacher evaluation policy is reflected in Table 2. As illustrated in this table, only

30 per cent of the policies met 11 or more of the 17 criteria. Further, 25 percent of the policies failed to meet more than seven criteria. No policies

scored perfectly, but one policy met 16 of the 17 established criteria.

Another revealing categorization is shown in Table 3 according to the

broad areas of teacher evaluation into which the seventeen criteria ware grouped,

namely, technical effectiveness, teacher improvement, account-ability, and

teacher rights.

Twenty (43 % ) policies had six of 10 criteria for technical effectiveness,

30 (64/o) policies had six or more of the criteria, and one policy was considered to

have met all of the desired criteria. Of the teacher improvement area, 27 (57%)

policies addressed less than two of the three criteria. Only five (11%) policies

made reference to all three criteria necessity to foster teacher improvement,

compared to 29 (62%) policies which clearly possessed both criteria for

accountability. When it came to teacher rights provisions in policies, 17 (36/o)

policies made no mention of it, 24 (5 1 % ) stated one of the criteria, and six (13%)

supported both criteria.

The success rate for meeting criteria was, for accountability 72.3 per cent,

for technical effectiveness 53.6 per cent, for teacher improvement 45.6 per cent,

and for teacher rights 38.2 per cent.

Policy emphasis on self-development was compared with the emphasis

placed on accountability. These results are illustrated in Table 4. Only 22 (47%)

policies clearly dealt with both self-development and accountability and 10 (21%)

of them made no reference to either. Of the 15 policies that dealt with only one

aspect, six policies made reference to self-development without mentioning


Further investigation revealed a relationship between provision for

assistance for marginal teachers and provision for placement in growth or

remediation tracks. Of the 30 policies that distinguished between growth

and remediation tracks, 19 (63%) did so only after a teacher was found to

be experiencing serious problems, or considered to be marginal or

incompetent. The other 11 (37%) stated that evaluators pointed out

problems for evaluates, made recommendations for improvement, and

provided them with a certain length of time to improve, but, according to

policy, did not offer assistance.

Other elements of teacher evaluation policies such as dates for

adoption and revision(s) of policy; who, according to policy, was involved

in determining policy; and whether or not policies were gender friendly

were also looked at. Table 5 shows the degree to which these elements

were addressed in policy.

Three (6%) policies stated that a collaborative effort was

responsible for the existing policy. Thirty-eight (38) policies were

gender friendly. Thirty-six of the 47 policies submitted indicated the year

in which the policy was adopted and/or revised.

Through interviews conducted with evaluators and evaluates as part of

the Saw (1994) study, it was discovered that congruency in terms of intent,

implementation, and experience was elusive when it came to the policy and

practices of one rural school division. Although the existing policy was

considered by the administrators and teachers to be a worthy beginning, it was

concluded by all that it could he improved in several respects. For example, it was

agreed that more resources, such as time, were necessary if evaluations were to

effectively aid teachers to improve and to be held accountable. Teachers showed a

strong preference for becoming more involved with policy revision, and with

assisting one another. Encouraging and supporting self-development was another

area considered to be in need of improvement, as well as distinguishing the

difference between those on formative and summative evaluation tracks.

Table of Contents

Looking Ahead: Implications for Administrative and Board Action

The Common Problems

Educators at all levels and members of the public would probably

agree that teacher evaluation is fraught with numerous, serious problems

which pose an ever present threat to the well-being of professional

relationships and, in turn, to the effectiveness of the educational system as

a whole. It is noteworthy that the same problems have recurred in research

findings and in literature related to teacher evaluation for many years.

They seem to cluster around four "problem types".

Table of Contents

1. The Goal and Focus Problem

There is a temptation to attempt to reduce evaluation to a

numerical basis for ease of making some quantitative assessment (Findley

& Estabrook, 1991) in spite of the fact that these results reveal little about

the qualitative aspects of what teachers actually say during instruction

(Herrmann, 1987). Most accountability-oriented evaluation systems are

not accounting for the right things. Consequently, they are less effective

than planners hoped in bringing meaningful oversight to the schools

(McLaughlin dfc Pfeifer, 1988). Some of the most widely adopted forms

of teacher evaluation in current use rely on behavioural indicators to

assess teaching, without reference to the appropriateness or effects of the

teaching behaviours being measured. Teacher evaluation systems based on

whether teachers exhibit behaviours consonant with research-supported

instructional principles are conceptually flawed because they presume that

research-derived principles, adhered to by a specific teacher, will

invariably lead to successful results. What tends to be ~e for large groups

of teachers and students, however, may not be true in the case of

individual teachers.

"Teacher evaluation is a profoundly particular undertaking" (Stanley & Popham,

1988, p. 63). Furthermore, Duke (1993) states that "policies that mandate that all

teachers must grow according to a fixed schedule and in similar ways are

mindless" (p.711).

Simply itemizing what a teacher possesses or demonstrates, argue Weade

R Evertson (1991), can add up to a description with limited utility. Worse yet,

they continue:

It can suggest that isolated behaviours make a difference in and

of themselves, independent of the context in which they occur.

By default, the roles played by students and materials get left

out of the picture. (p. 41)

Reductionist teacher evaluations actively ignore the overwhelming importance

that teachers' personal and

pro fessional histories play in the construction o f meaning about classroom

events (Gitlin & Smyth, 1989). These authors claim that the alleged supremacy of

technique within evaluation should be seen for what it is - "a means of portraying

a false consensus about the ends of teaching, and a denial of the debate that

should ensue about what the nature of these desired goals might be" (p. 163). If

the intent of evaluation is to help teachers improve their instructional practices,

the categories and descriptors may become "obstacles to seeing, rather than aids

to better vision" (Wood, 1992, p. 55).

Table of Contents

2. The Problem of Differential Evaluation


Although agreement on a clear set of criteria on which a teacher's

performance in class can be assessed has been elusive (Walsh, 1987; McNeal,

1987), most current evaluation methods seem to be characterized by an allegiance

to a rational/technical or scientific approach to inquiry (Wood, 1992). In this

approach, the observer's judgment of teaching behaviours takes precedence, while

little or no consultation with the teacher or reflection on the

teacher's and students' interpretations of their classroom experiences, is

considered. This, claim Gitlin k Smyth (1989), amounts to a misplaced

faith in the capacity of scientific forms of research on teaching to deliver

definite knowledge about the nature of teaching.

On the other hand, an educative approach, as espoused by Gitlin dk Smyth

(1989), facilitates the breaking down of barriers that stand in the way of dialogical

relations. One such barrier is the "artificial division of labour between those who

are reported to hold educational theories and those who engage in teaching" (Gitlin

& Smyth, 1989, p.56). While a technocratic view of schooling focuses attention

solely on "how to" questions, an educative approach encourages a critical

orientation linking what ought to be with how it will be. Additionally, it attempts to

focus upon the school and its place in the community rather than upon the

individual teacher.

Table of Contents

3. The Expertise Problem

Evaluator competence is probably the most difficult aspect of the

evaluative process (Mitchell et al., 1990). Administrators, whose background may

be in widely different fields, states McNeal (1987), are forced to rely on simplistic

measures such as checklists. The degree to which administrators "slip into mindless

activity by allowing the structure of the (evaluation) instrument to control their

sight and awareness" (Wood, 1992, p. 56) exacerbates the problem of expertise.

Questions are sometimes raised about the extent to which an observer's account is

an adequate match for what usually occurs in a classroom (Weade & Evertson,

1991), especially when, as was documented in Miner's (1992) study, some

principals make evaluations after only 20 minutes of observation. Further, when a

class is being observed, the teacher and students take on "artificial roles that they

believe to be appropriate to the occasion" (Weade Ee Evertson, 1991, p. 41).

School executives often fail to observe and evaluate teachers, or they

overrate the teachers they do evaluate (Langlois & Colarusso, 1988). In fact, Miner

(1992) found that "some principals gave outstanding evaluations to teachers who dozed in class because the teacher was a friend" (p. 3). Often

those responsible for evaluating teachers are not sure of the rules or the

procedures for conducting the evaluation. This also drastically affects the

soundness and fairness of the evaluation (Rieck, 19S9). Also, the level of

objectivity of evaluations is lowered because administrators are either not

cognizant of, or admit to, the manner in which their own attitudes and

experiences may tend to slant what they see and hear (Wood, 1992). It is

little wonder, therefore, that according to Medley 8c Coker (1987), studies

have found no appreciable agreement between administrator judgments of

teaching effectiveness and the amount students learn.

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4. The Problem of Hierarchy and Control

While dominant forms of teacher evaluation might be designed

with the very best of intentions to institute a necessary form of "quality

control", what they end up doing

is reinforcing the notion that teachers are not the

experts, that educational hierarchies are necessary

and just, and that teachers do not have to enter into

educative dialogue with one another about their work

(Gitlin dc Smyth, 1989, p. 164)

This feeling is echoed by Walsh (1987) when he writes: "The notion of

teachers as independent, autonomous professionals has been eroded, and

the importance of management and hierarchical accountability

emphasized" (p. 148). In dominant forms of teacher evaluation, where the

teacher's intentions are not considered, the teacher is effectively silenced

Teachers, therefore, become technicians concerned with implementing the

ideas of others, rather than intellectuals involved in questioning and

interrogating their own teaching and the context in which it occurs

(Smyth, 1991).

Teachers are disgruntled by the number of administrators not

directly concerned about, or involved with, improving instruction

(Wareiag, 1990). For many experienced and tenured teachers, yearly evaluations have been more a

matter of pride than of job security (McNeal, 1987) which causes evaluation

to become an empty, time-stealing ritual. According to Duke (1993):

To conduct yearly evaluations of competent teachers for

purposes of accountability conveys distrust - hardly the

stuff of which professional cultures are built. (p.704)


If there is a less meaningful ritual for The vast majority of

experienced teachers, it would be hard to find. The idea of

evaluating all competent teachers every year according to a

common set of performance standards that, at best,

represent minimum or basic expectations is little short of an

institutionalized insult. (p.7033

Gitlin dk Smyth (1989) claim that far from being value-free, traditional

notions of teacher evaluation serve conservative interests by reinforcing authoritarian

school relations which ultimately run counter to the idea of an active, informed

citizenry. They also run counter to the demands of the profession for self-regulation

and autonomy and in this regard they highlight a basic tension which naturally

accompanies the professional and the bureaucracy as they attempt to occupy the

same organizational space (Corwin, 1965).

Table of Contents

Critical Attributes of Effective Teacher

Evaluation Programs

There is general agreement among education writers that teacher

evaluation must satisfy two competing individual and organizational needs. One

requires a process of control and surveillance which is hierarchically performed; the other utilizes educative relationships in which the

educational community creates self-knowledge.

"By separating accountability-driven and growth-oriented evaluation,

school systems remove a number of obstacles to professional

development" (Duke, 1993, p. 704). Teacher evaluation can determine

whether new teachers can teach, help all teachers to improve, and indicate

when a teacher can or will teach effectively (Wise et al., 19S4). Personnel

decisions of retiring, tenure, promotion, demotion, and dismissal are

greatly influenced by it.

Any system of teacher evaluation, however reliable, must first and

foremost be faithful to teaching. The cornerstone of evaluation schemes

should be the belief that teachers wish to improve their performance in

order to enhance the education of their pupils. Montgomery & Hadheld

(1989) claim that a

fair, non-threatening, valid, and comprehensive evaluation

system offers what is often an unprecedented opportunity to

learn and develop in a situation which benefits the

individual and the school, and meets the prime aim of

evaluation which is to improve the quality of teaching and

learning. (p. 194)

Wareing (1990) echoes this feeling when she writes that an effective

evaluation process "will serve to minimize fear and maximize Hunan

potential and, ultimately, improve the quality of the teaching-learning

process" (p. 250). The evaluation process holds great potential as a means

to push toward improvement of pedagogical skills and instruction it our

schools. Its potential as a "positive, growth-inducing process has been long

overlooked" (Conley, 1987, p. 64). While it is obvious that some form of

accountability in education is imperative, this does not mean it has to be

impositional We need practices that

highlight the tensions, contradictions, and

distortions in schooling g and that permit

alternatives to be debated and adopted. Accountability of this kind means that teachers not only acquire a

voice in the determination of educational aims, but that they do so

on the basis of a joint assessment of the political, ethical, and

moral implications of schooling. (Gitlin dc Smyth, 1989, p. 563

Teacher evaluators should be concerned with words, behaviours,

methodologies, and pedagogies of teachers and not just what is taught. Teacher

evaluation is judgmentally based and, therefore, varies according to an evaluator's

conception of teaching. This implies that teacher evaluation tends to be as effective

as the people who carry it out. The need for better trained evaluators is more evident

as they are being required to be collaborative, collegial, and dialogical and less

directive. Teacher evaluation, although in many instances still dominated by

inspection and control, is becoming more concerned with assisting teachers to

improve instruction.

Daresh (1992) suggests the following to help an administrator

provide colleagues with feedback that will enhance positive, professional

self-images and encourage more effective performance:

1. Stick with facts - Evaluation should be based on facts not rumour or


2. See for yourself - Information gleaned from students, other teachers,

and parents should be checked out before used as part of an

evaluation report.

3. Be honest - effective evaluation depends on trust and

communication that should exist in the organization.

4. Be confidential - Evaluation comments and feedback should be shared in

private by the evaluator and the person being evaluate

5. Don't try to be funny - Evaluation is a serious business and the use

of sarcasm in tense settings usually backfires.

6. Talk about problems not people - The goal of evaluation is to

improve performance not to attack individual teachers.

Alkire (1990) states that teacher evaluation is an essential element

in attempts to improve instructional programs and that teachers and

students deserve nothing less than the best. He offers the following

suggestions for effective evaluations:

1. Read union contracts and board policies and abide by them.

2. Ask teachers for self-evaluations.

3. Plan classroom visits wisely - make unannounced


4. Do observations correctly - longer visits at different times of the


5. Take accurate notes - crucial for marginal teachers.

6. Consider video-taping teachers.

7. Don't limit yourself to ratings - no single source of data is

sufficiently problem-free that it can form the cornerstone of a

defensible program.

8. Make sure post-evaluation conferences mean something - discuss

possible solutions to problems and complement strengths.

9. offer teachers a chance for a rebuttal - compromise and change

can result. Rebuttals are attached to the report.

10. Show that you take evaluations seriously - hire substitute teachers

to free teachers for post-evaluation conferences to be held during

school hours.

11. Get the teacher's signature on the report - proof that the

evaluation actually occurred.

There is no recipe or template for a successful teacher evaluation

program (Hickcox, Lawton, Leithwood, dk Musella, 1988). Systems where

effective, well-operated procedures for teacher evaluation are in place ensure that

the previously mentioned problem areas are considered in policy and practice.

Furthermore, teacher evaluation processes should be continually monitored for

consistency and fairness as they address organizational and individual interests.

Toward this end, several practices can be identified from the literature which over

the past decade or so has reported successful practices. They reduce to the

following prescriptions:

1. While multiple methods should be used for evaluating teachers, school

systems must consider the purposes that each serves, to ensure that

teacher evaluation goals and processes do not conflict (Mitchell et al,

1990). Some currently in use, albeit some more than others, are:

performance assessment centres (Shulman, 1987, 1988), written teacher

competency tests (Medley and Coker, 1987), videotaping (Ellis, 1991),

students' standardized test scores (Findlay and Estabrook, 1991),

documentation portfolios (Shulman, 1987), judgment-based teacher

evaluations (Stanley and Popham, 1988), self-evaluation (Montgomery

and HacKeld, 1989; Millman and Darling-Hammond, 1990), parent

involvement (McGreal, 1983), peer evaluation (ERS Staff Report, 1988),

horizontal coaching (Gitlin and Smyth, 1989), and university-teacher


2. Defensible teacher evaluations must be based, in part at least, on the

growth that teachers bring about in students. Therefore, an evaluator must

also be attentive to what students become, not merely what teachers do.

3. Teacher evaluation processes are more appropriate and valuable when they

take account of the context in which teaching occurs (Shulman, 1987).

These include such matters as the characteristics of the learners and

aspects of the community, language, and culture.

4. Rather than relying on the "annual" formal visit, many visits are

required for a better understanding of a teacher's performance

(Stein, 1992). By making frequent informal visits to classrooms,

claim Gray, McLaughlin, and Blazer (1992), administrators can

reinforce and praise good teaching, Bather data regarding

curriculum implementation, and head off instructional problems

before they become critical.

5. There is a professional and, often times a legal, obligation to

improve inservice education to assist teachers (Wood & Lease,

1987). Marginal teachers must be identified and assisted. Teacher

evaluation should be part of staff development programs with the

intention of enhancing performance (Montgamery & Hadfield,

1989; Dagley & Orso, 1991) because it is capable of

a) providing information for determining the extent

of knowledge and skills gained during staff

development activities;

b) judging the degree of maintenance of the acquired

skills and knowledge;

c) providing a basis for teachers' and administrators'

career planning and professional development;


d) helping to identify staff development needs.

It should not be an ancillary service; it should be part of a larger

strategy for school improvement. Ideally, according to Wood dk

Lease (1987), a school's instructional program should begin with

staff development followed by evaluation. Teacher evaluation

should also foster the self-development of each teacher (Appendix


6. Training for both evaluators and teachers is crucial McLaughlin R

Pfeifer, 1988) because evaluates, as well as evaluators, should

know how to use evaluation instruments to acquire useful

objective data, to interpret results, and to use those results to

advantage (Hickcox et al., 1988).

It is noteworthy that this provision is under-emphasized in school

systems. At best it is represented in sporadic inservice training for

administrators; at worst it allows no orientation for teachers or

administrators, probably on the assumption that both parties will

"learn the ropes" as they grapple with the evaluation process year by


7. Evaluation processes and criteria are developed with the rights of the

teacher and the nature of the professional in mind. These imply

involvement in the development of procedures, knowledge of criteria,

right to second opinion, and opportunity to share viewpoints and


8. A clear distinction is made between tenured and non-tenured teachers

and teachers placed on growth or remediation tracks.

9. Perhaps most important of all, evaluation is clearly and obviously of

high priority in the school system (Conley, 1987) as evidenced by a

clear articulation of board philosophy of evaluation and budgeted

financial support. Although improving instruction sometimes requires

removing a teacher, more commonly teachers will become better

instructors if boards expend resources to help them improve.

Therefore, evaluation procedures should be taken seriously and

supported. Some possibilities are to:

1. Train both evaluators and teachers in all aspects of teacher


2. Hire substitute teachers to free teachers for post-evaluation

conferences to be held during school hours and to permit them to

visit each others' classrooms.

3. Hire substitute teachers to enable in-school administrators

to visit classrooms.

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Criteria for Effective Teacher Evaluation Policy

To determine what constitutes an effective teacher evaluation policy, one

must relate principles of effective teacher evaluation measures to effective policy

development. First and foremost, teacher evaluation at its best is guided by

principles of good policy. Effective policy has a statement of purpose which is

usually derived from the philosophy of the school division and guidelines that

allow the implementors the opportunity to use their professional judgment from

situation to situation (Walberg, 1982). The length of the written text and the

language used are also important features of effective policy. Policy, according to

Walberg (1982), should be free of technical language of a kind teachers use in the

course of their professional work.

An evaluation policy should also contain a repeal of any prior policies

and procedures and a statement of how it will be applied as well as identify the

individuals to be evaluated and the personnel who will be doing the evaluating

(Frels et al., 1986).

Effective policy development, according to Walberg (1982), is

comprehensive, participatory, and long range; open to phased

implementation, internally consistent with its goals; and

indicative of the commitment of time and resources that it

requires for success. (p. 359)

Teachers, principals, and directors, as well as students, parents, and community

members, should be intimately involved in the policy making and implementing

processes (Sergiovanni, Burlingham, Coombs, & Thurston, 1980). Hickcox et al.

(1988) lucidly espouse the importance of evaluatee involvement in policy

development by suggesting:

An appraisal system developed jointly between supervisors

and subordinates has a better chance of incorporating diverse

but relevant points of view than a system developed by top

management alone. The greater the opportunity for participation

by parties affected by a decision, the greater the potential for

acceptability of the decision. (p. 66)

Policies that might alarm the community, warns Orlosky, McLeary,

Shapiro, Sc Webb (1984), must be introduced thoughtfully only after sufficient

preparation in terms of informing or, better yet, involving the community

because, if no one complies with a new policy, it has accomplished little.

Provision should be made for any person or group in the school community to

initiate review of a policy (Caldwell and Spinks, 1988). It is recommended that a

policy be developed to facilitate suggestions for change. Such a policy would

ensure that a working party, comprised of experts and stockholders, is appointed

to explore an issue and prepare at least three viable options. Holmes, Leithwood,

& Musella, (1989) write that policy makers must realize that efforts and outcomes

will vary from setting to setting and that "the effective school of this year may

not be so effective next year" (p. 124). Finally, Walberg (1982) maintains that

"the policy must be accompanied by the technical assistance and resources

necessary to support its implementation" (p. 338).

What follows in the next two sections are recommendations for further

research and practice that the author, through his study and literature review,

concluded were areas which need to be addressed.

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Recommendations for Further Research

1. The duplication of this study in other school divisions would offer a

broader perspective of congruence among policy-in-intent,

policy-of-implementation, and policy-in-experience.

2. The replication of this style of study, that would explore

congruence of policy-in-intent, policy-in-implementation, and

policy-in-experience of other crucial policies, would lead to a better

understanding of the effect of the degree of congruence on schools

and school systems.

3. Research in the area of policy making would help

bring to light the relationship between policy

formulation and collaborative policy making.

4. An exploration of the effect of training evaluators and evaluates on

the success of teacher evaluation would shed light on the

importance of such an initiative.

5. Whether or not gender plays a part of teacher evaluation treatment

would seem vital given the emerging significance of equity in

personnel issues.

6. Studies focusing on the relationship that exists

between staff development activities and teacher

evaluation results would enhance both practices.

7. Research in the area of teacher evaluation practices and job

satisfaction for evaluators and evaluates would yield useful

information about teacher evaluation focus.

8. A comprehensive study of the relationship between teacher

evaluation practices and teacher accountability may help to provide

a clearer picture of this timely concern.

Table of Contents

Recommendations for Practice

9. School divisions should examine their educational goals, management

style, conception of teaching, and community values and adopt a teacher

evaluation system compatible with them. It should not adopt an evaluation

system simply because that system works in other contexts.

10. School divisions should grant evaluators sufficient time,

unburdened by competing administrative demands, for evaluation activities. This may mean, for

example, providing a substitute teacher on a mandated

regular basis.

11. School divisions should regularly assess the quality of

evaluation, including individual and collective evaluator

competence. The assessments should provide feedback to

individual evaluators and input into the continuing evaluator

training process.

12. School divisions should train evaluators in observation and

evaluation techniques, including reporting, diagnosis, and clinical

supervision skills, particularly when it adopts a new teacher

evaluation process. Inservice should be provided for teachers so that

they are cognizant of the purpose(s) and practices of teacher


13. School divisions should examine their existing teacher

evaluation systems to see which, if any, purpose(s) they serve

well. If a division changes its purpose(s), it should change the

process of evaluation.

14. School divisions must allocate resources commensurate with

the number of teachers to be evaluated and the importance

and visibility of evaluation outcomes.

15. School divisions should involve teachers in the assistance of

their peers, particularly beginning teachers, teachers nearing

retirement, and those in need of special assistance.

16. School divisions should involve teacher organizations, such

as local and provincial teachers' associations, in the design

and oversight of teacher evaluation to ensure its legitimacy,

fairness, and effectiveness.

17. School divisions should hold teachers accountable to

standards of practice that compel then to make appropriate

instructional decisions on behalf of their students.

18. Self-development should be encouraged and facilitated by school

division teacher evaluation

19. School divisions should ensure that evaluates have the right to appeal their

evaluation report.

20. Different approaches to teacher evaluation may have to be used for different

stages of individual career cycles, for different levels of jobs in the

hierarchy, and for different levels of experience within a system

21. Teacher evaluation should be closely aligned with staff development.

However, individual school and teacher concerns must continue to be


22. School divisions should make a concerted effort to assist marginal teachers

and initiate a legitimate process to deal with incompetent teachers.

23. School divisions should adopt a policy that states how policy is to be

formulated and how and how often policy is to be reviewed and


Table of Contents

Concluding Remarks

There is tension between the two major competing paradigms of teacher

evaluation based largely upon a silent struggle between ideological forces that

support surveillance, hierarchy, and bureaucracy, and the contesting forces of

reflection, collegiality, and collectively (Gitlin R Smyth, 1989). The dilemma

faced by policy makers and implementors is whether or not the emphasis in

teacher evaluation should be placed on cultivation or weeding. A weeding

approach would see an evaluator "focus upon the presumed deficits of

individuals" (Gitlin dk Smyth, 1989, p. 162) while ignoring their potential for

growth. Conversely, a cultivation approach would emphasize the overall

development of teachers by encouraging them to "open their hearts, souls, and

minds to one another, thinking critically and actively planning improvements to

their teaching" (Glickznaa, 1990, p. 162).

In the school divisions involved of the Saw (1994) study,

policy makers, according to their written policies, seemed to prefer to

concentrate an accountability (72.3/o) as opposed to teacher improvement

efforts (43.6%). Since incompetent performance is very much the

exception rather than the rule, energy ought to be expended in protecting

teachers' self-esteem and enhancing professional development.

According to Rooney (1993), "support and encouragement have

much more effect than criticism however thinly veiled under the guise of

supervision" (p. 44). This is not to suggest that the incidence of

incompetence is to be ignored. It is a crucial area for policy because of the

implications for the reputation of the profession and, more importantly, the

education of children and the well-being of society. Respondents in this

study clearly indicated their desire for this distressing concern to be

addressed. Teacher unions must become more involved in teacher

evaluations by working closely with administrators in devising and

monitoring intensive assistance programs for teachers experiencing

instructional difficulties. Adversarial relations between management and

unions should give way to what is best for students.

Follow-up interviews in this study clearly indicated that the preferred

approach for teacher evaluation was to utilize a system of peer assistance (Appendix

E). This would help to overcome the sort of isolation, uncertainty, and loneliness that

characterizes a great deal of teaching (Walsh, 1987). Peers, according to McGreal

(1983), can be used in instructional improvement efforts - observation and input by

one or more teachers to another teacher for the specific purpose of assisting that

teacher in improving instruction. You can learn more about teaching by watching

peers teach than you can by having someone observe you and write an evaluation

(DePasquale, Jr., 1990). This method of evaluation can not take place unless there is

a willingness to provide resources and to assist teachers in reaching their goals

(DePasquale, Jr., 1990) as well as open-mindedness and trust among colleagues

(McGreal, 1983). Gitlin & Smyth (1989) emphasize the importance of encouraging

dialogical relations among teachers because "schools are much more vibrant and

reflective places in which to live and to work" (p. 156) if this support is forthcoming.

Therefore, evaluators of the future will require training to ensure

they are capable of working with teachers in a collaborative,

collegial, and dialogical fashion.

Another recurring theme in the interviews was the

importance of involving evaluates in teacher evaluation policy

formulation and revision. Although this is heavily supported by the

literature, only 6% of the policies analyzed in the Saw (1994) study

stated that a collaborative approach was utilized to develop their

policy. Caldwell dk Spinks (198S) recommend that a policy be

developed to facilitate suggestions for change and that policy making

should be "all-over-at-once" rather than "top-down" or "bottom-up"

thereby releasing the energy in the system rather than keeping it

harnessed. Educators should take every opportunity to engage in

dialogue, regardless of their place in the hierarchy.

Table of Contents

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