01 SES 06 B, Evaluating Teachers and the Impact of Professional Development
Teacher evaluation has become a common occurrence in schools. Although the primary role of teacher evaluation is to provide feedback to teachers for improving instruction (formative evaluation), evaluation has often been used for personnel decisions (summative evaluation) and accountability purposes as well.
Different models of teacher evaluation exist which relate to the criteria to be applied, the instruments and sources of information to be used, the participants in the evaluation, and the procedures (Darling-Hammond, Amrein-Beardsley, Hairtel, & Rothstein, 2001; Flores & Derrington, 2018). Models may vary in accordance with the aims they are intended to serve. For example, if evaluation is done to aid administrative decisions, Approach A may be adopted, whereas if the purpose is the professional development of the teaching staff, Approach B may be more suitable.
Similarly, models may be characterized on a spectrum ranging from a constructivist approach, which is tailor-fit to the particular teacher and school context, to a standardized assessment system in the spirit of a more positivist educational approach, in which all teachers are evaluated in the same way.
The intent of the present study was to examine how teachers think evaluation should be conducted when its goal is improving the effectiveness of instruction and teachers' professional development (i.e., formative assessment).
Recent years have witnessed growing recognition of the importance of assessment and its decisive impact on the instruction and learning processes. Many scholars have emphasized assessment’s immense formative power and influence over the “how, what, and why” of instruction and learning (Levin, 2009; Wiliam, 2011). Assessment reflects the aims and goals of the educational process and in this way influences its content and the use of instructional modes, the times at which and the duration for which specific subject matter is taught, and the reasons for covering some contents and not others (Nevo, 2009; Birenbaum, 1996). Assessment has an immense impact on the culture of learning and instruction, the development of students as learners, and the professional image of the teacher.
Moreover, over the past two decades, the conceptual framework of constructivism has driven the dominant approaches to instructional design, resulting in numerous examples of practical implementation regarding teaching, learning, and also assessment (Libman, 2013). Therefore it was assumed that the teachers' views regarding their desired formative assessment will reflect constructivist perceptions.
The emerging teachers' model of ideal evaluation procedures as perceived by teachers will be assessed as to the extent that it reflects a constructivist perspective under the assumption that an evaluation model rich in information collected over a prolonged period of time from multiple sources reflects a constructivist perception approach., which Such a model has the potential of increasing the utility of teacher evaluation for instructional improvement.
The research questions focused on the following aspects:
- What are the criteria that respondents believe should be emphasized in a model that is desirable for the formative evaluation of teachers?
- What tools should be used to collect information for formative teacher evaluation?
- Who are the participants that should be involved in teachers' formative evaluation?
- What is the position of the teachers in relation to the desired length of the evaluation process, its frequency and what follows?
The research questions were examined for possible differences between groups of teachers according to their personal characteristics, including seniority, rank, academic degree, and role at school. We also looked at two school characteristics: school level (elementary or middle school) and organizational culture with respect to learning and evaluation.
The study was conducted in Israel. Participants were 1,554 teachers (89% female and 76% from elementary schools, 24% from middle schools). The sample represented all geographical areas of the country as well as the different state school systems including the secular sector (64%), the religious sector (14%), and the Arab sector (22%). About 37% of the teachers performed another role at school in addition to teaching. A questionnaire was developed specifically for this study. The research method was mainly quantitative, but the questionnaire also included open-ended questions that were analyzed thematically. The questionnaire was piloted to test the format and to examine both the clarity and relevancy of questions. The final version of the questionnaire contained three major sections that addressed teacher and school background information, teacher's perceptions of current teacher evaluation in his/her school, and teacher's attitudes towards the desired form of various aspects of formative teacher evaluation. Many of the research variables were measured using several Likert type items with a 5-point response scale. In order to reduce the number of variables and to focus on broad areas, principle axis factoring with oblimin rotation was performed on various sections of the questionnaire. Accordingly, scores were calculated for the resulting factors. All variables created in this way had high Cronbach reliability coefficients. The questionnaire was administered to teachers through the internet using Google Forms, as well as in printed form to in-service teachers studying in Masters' degree programs at two teachers' colleges.
Nearly half of the teachers reported that teacher evaluation in their schools is mainly for administrative purposes. However, 85% reported that the goal of teacher evaluation should be to improve teaching. Some teachers favored frequent evaluations while others supported less frequent evaluations. Regarding preferred evaluation criteria, teachers tended to rate basic and advanced instructional competencies as highly important. Use of technology in teaching and items related to non-teaching tasks (teamwork and interactions with parents) were perceived as less relevant. Teachers also rated the importance of including various types of information as evidence of teachers' skills. They favored gathering at least four different types of information. However, there was little agreement concerning the most appropriate sources. In their view, the school principal and the evaluated teacher should always be involved in the evaluation process while pupils and supervisors should generally not be involved. In the teachers' opinion, the evaluation process should conclude with at least a summary discussion with the principal. The majority expect that some plan for their professional development will be made. Academic degree, teaching experience, having additional responsibilities at school, and working at a school with an ethos of continual improvement and learning were related to teachers' attitudes. Teachers' preferences were examined in relation to a constructivist-positivist continuum. The guiding assumption was that an evaluation model that is rich in information collected over a prolonged period from multiple sources, tailor-fit to the teacher and the school, and includes provision of quality professional development for teachers (Smylie, 2014) would reflect a constructivist perception of teacher evaluation. Such a model would have the potential of increasing the utility of teacher evaluation for improvement. The model preferred by teachers in this study tends to fall about midway between the two poles. The implications of this finding will be discussed.
Birenbaum, M. (1996). Toward a pluralistic assessment of achievement, learning processes and prior knowledge. In: Assessment 2000: Towards a Pluralist Approach to Assessment (Evaluation in Education and Human Services, Vol. 42) (pp. 3-29). Boston, MA: Kluwer. Darling-Hammond, L., Amrein-Beardsley, A., Haertel, E.H., & Rothstein, J. (2011). Getting teacher evaluation right: A background paper for policy makers. Flores, M.A., & Derrington, M.L. (2018). Imporving teacher evaluation: Key issues for appraisers in a globalized era. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 24(3), 203-208. Levin, T. (2009). The silent voices: The meanings of evaluation in school. In: Yitzhak Kashti (ed.), Evaluation, Jewish Education and the History of Education: A Collection of Essays in Memory of Prof. Arieh Lewy (pp. 33-60). Tel Aviv: Ramot Publications [Hebrew]. Libman, Z. (2013). Constructivism in education. Z. Libman (Ed.). Learning, understanding, knowing: Exploring pathways to constructivist teaching (pp. 13-52). Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad and Mofet Publications [Hebrew]. Nevo, D. (2009). Speaking against accountability. Yitzhak Kashti (Ed.), Evaluation, Jewish education, and the history of education: A collection of essays in memory of Prof. Arieh Lewy (pp. 61-76). Tel Aviv: Ramot Publications [Hebrew]. Smylie, M. A. (2014). Teacher evaluation and the problem of professional development. Mid-Western Educational Researcher, 26(2), 97-111. Wiliam, D. (2011). What is assessment for learning? Studies in educational evaluation, 37, 3-14.
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