A teacher plays important roles to ensure the quality of education and to develop the quality of human resources. Many researches and literatures show the important roles of teachers in educational process. .According to Fullan (1991), the educational change heavily depends on teachers’ thinking and action which is a complex process. Moreover, the teacher also plays a significant roles as “a moral agents who transmits the values overtly and covertly” (Beyer, as cited in Marsh, 1996). Therefore, it is important to ensure the quality of teacher.
One way to ensure teacher quality is through teacher appraisal. According to Bouchamma, (2005); and Montgomery and Hadfield (1989), teacher appraisal is becoming a central issue for development of teachers’ professionalism which can have positive impacts on teaching and learning, professional development, teacher dedication, and students’ achievement. However, it’s a complex process, since the teacher evaluation itself is not only used for improving teaching practices, but also developing teacher careers. Therefore, developing an integrated assessment of teacher evaluation is important to provide the complete picture of teacher performances.
Moreover, as a teacher educator who has responsibility to educate and shape pre-service and in-service teachers, it is important for me to develop a deep understanding of teacher evaluation and its issues. I realize that teacher appraisal could help me and my students teacher to be professional educators through the purposes and the process of teacher appraisal itself. Therefore this essay will discus the teacher appraisal by giving descriptions of the essentials, purposes, values, methods, and several issues of teacher appraisal.
The Essentials of Teacher Appraisal
Teacher appraisal is considered one important way to assess teachers’ work as professionals. According to Montgomery and Hadfield (1989) and Lacey (1996), teacher appraisal is a structured system for assessing and evaluating teachers’ performance and work. This system involves the teacher at the centre of the appraisal and others such as the head teacher, the superintendent, teacher colleagues, and students in assessing teacher performances. However there are issues surrounding the selection of criteria used in judging what a good or bad teaching performance is.
Therefore, the meaning of teacher appraisal itself depends on someone’s attitudes and values. A positive meaning could be related to improvement and promotion, but the negative meaning could lead to the selection of incompetent teachers (Marsh, 1996). Therefore, it is important to realize that different approaches of teacher appraisal which are implemented in different countries are influenced by people’s values. These people’s values will influence the purpose of teacher appraisal itself as to whether it focuses on teacher improvement or teacher judgment.
The Purposes of Teacher Appraisal
There are two basics purposes for teacher appraisal professional and career development (Dempster, n.d.; Turner & Clift, 1988). Different authors use different terms to represent these two principles such as formative and summative or improvement and accountability. Formative and improvement refers to professional development for improving practices, summative and accountability refers to career development for teachers’ certification, selections, promotion, and redeployment (Lacey, 1996; Turner & Clift, 1988). In this essay will discuss four main purposes of a teacher appraisal are teacher professionalism, self assessment, certification and promotion.
- Teacher professionalism
Teacher appraisal can be seen as the way to develop teacher professionalism (Bollington, Hoopkins, & West, 1990). Through teacher evaluation, teachers will have opportunities to develop their professionalism both pedagogical skills and knowledge of content. In addition, teacher appraisal consist of a set of criteria to measure and evaluate teachers’ performances based on competencies, which is commonly linked to national and local context. A teacher as a professional is required to achieve a certain level of standards. According to Eraut and Gonczi (as cited in Van der Schaaf & Stokking, 2008),in order to help teachers to develop their professionalism, teacher evaluation should assess several teachers’ competences such as teachers’ personality, knowledge, skills and attitudes. However, according to Findley and Estabrook, (1991) and Lacey (1996) the emphasis in teacher evaluation should be on their teaching and not on them as individuals. Even though, it is difficult to separate between teacher professionalism and their personality, the focus of appraisal on teacher professionalism rather than personality will be more powerful to provide the information of teacher performances.
- Self Assessment
Teacher evaluation also can play an important role for teachers’ self assessment. The feedback of teacher appraisal about their pedagogical and content knowledge, performances, and teaching effectiveness can be useful for reflecting and improving their professional practices. According to Bouchamma (2005) and Green and Snyser, (1996), the positive impacts of teachers evaluation couldn’t be achieved unless teachers do self assessment on their professional practice. Moreover, the good teacher appraisal itself will give teachers autonomy to reflect and assess their own practices (Bollington, Hopkins, & West, 1990). Teachers as prime appraisers, who could review their own teaching, discover their talents and develop their skills to be good teachers (Dempster, n.d.; Montgomery & Hadfield, 1989). Even through, it is difficult to shift teachers’ paradigms and values on their pedagogical practices, ongoing self assessment will help them to reflect and improve their practices.
Teacher evaluation can be used for certification of teacher professionalism. According to Ellet and Tedlie, (2005), teacher appraisal is a way for giving a license or a certificate for teacher as a professional which should encourage teachers to perform better. As professionals, teachers will receive professional certificates based on the results of teachers’ competency test. Certified teachers will receive compensation, incentives and awards; on the other hand, uncertified teachers need to meet the good performance standards of professional teachers. Therefore teacher evaluation in this certification process is important and has great impacts on teachers’ lives.
Teacher appraisal is also widely used as the assessment for teachers’ promotion which focuses on career development (Bollington, Hopkins, & West, 1990; Turner & Clift, 1988). According to Marsh (1996), teacher career development consists of six variables which are entry, payment, transfer, taking leave, promotion, and retirement. The results of teacher appraisal determines the position of teachers in their career and rewards for their performances. As a result, sometimes, teachers feel under pressure of becoming the focus of assessment, because it is greatly influences their future life.
The Values of Teacher Appraisal
According to Marsh (1996), value is the feeling component of human behaviour which determines how people behave in certain ways. The values of teacher appraisal lead to the different forms of teacher appraisal. Moreover, the value is influenced by policy makers who determined the system of teacher appraisal, the appraisers who assess the teachers, and teacher who is the focus of appraisal. If the value of teacher appraisal focuses onn judgment, it will refer to the dominant forms, such as accountability oriented, external motivation, and employer control. On the other hand, if the value focuses on improvement, it will be more on emancipatory forms. The table 1. Bellow represents the different forms of teacher appraisal.
Even though, it is difficult to separate those two, since judgment of teacher performances could influence their practices, I believe that rather than simply judge of teacher performances, it will be more powerful for using teacher appraisal as improvement of teachers’ professional practices. It is not only powerful for the appraisers, but also for teachers to focus on self reflections to improve their practices. According to Dempster, (n.d.), the value which is focusing on improvement should be enhanced by strengthening the collective responsibility of teacher standards, evaluation of practices, and self-regulation. Moreover, according to Green and Snyser, (1996), teacher evaluation should lead to professional growth through self reflection. Therefore, teachers could use the teacher appraisal for self-regulated reflections for further growth of individual and professionalism.
In addition, the other value of teacher appraisal is the freedom for teachers to participate in the teacher appraisal. Teacher should have opportunities to reflect on their practices, knowledge, and skills as professional teacher. Self reflections have a greater impact to individuals rather than the assessment from others. Therefore, it is important to give more space for teacher to decide their own improvement and practices. Teachers should have opportunities to do the self-assessment, because they have deeper understanding of their own problems and context of teaching and learning. As a result, the solutions for the teachers’ problems are unique for each individual teacher.
Different Methods of Teacher Appraisal
There are several methods of teacher appraisal which have been widely used. This paper will discussed four methods of assessment which are assessments of students’ performances, assessment of teacher knowledge (Turner & Clift, 1988), classroom observations and teacher portfolios (Green & Snyder, 1996; Montgomery &Hadfield, 1989). These different methods of teacher appraisal have different objectives, advantages, and limitations. Therefore, applying different methods of teacher appraisal can provide rich information of teacher performances.
- Assessment of Students’ Performances
Assessment of student performances is a traditional method of teacher appraisal which has been widely used, especially in USA (Turner & Clift, 1988). Even though, teacher quality is related to student performances, it is not effective to use student achievement for teacher appraisal. According to Turner and Clift (1988), there are several problems in applying this method for teacher appraisal: (1) teacher quality is not the only one factor which determines students’ performance, (2) reliability and validity, and (3) students tend to perform well only at particular times. Therefore, this method is no longer used in many countries since it caused many problems.
- Classroom Observations
Classroom observation is a method of teacher appraisal which can give opportunities for the assessors to observe teaching and learning processes as well as teacher performances. According to Marsh (2000, p.410), “classroom observations are a valuable method for obtaining first-hand information about teaching and learning and also provide a practical discussion focus between appraises and the appraiser”. However, according to Green and Snyder, (1996), classroom observation does not give the complete picture of teacher performance. Sometimes, teachers and students could show different behaviors when they are observed which will not give the actual picture of daily activities in the classroom. Moreover, according to Lacey, (1996), there are several problems with the use of classroom observations: misinterpretations, lack of objectivity, affecting the behaviour of teacher and students, and generalizing from inadequate data . Therefore, integrated this method with other methods of teacher appraisal will be helpful in assessing teaching and learning process. At the same time, teacher performance can be assessed through classroom observation. Commonly, there are checklists of teacher performance or narrative comments on the results of teacher performances. These different approaches can provide different interpretations. For example, if the result consist of a list of performances which teachers are shown during assessment without the comment or explanation, it could give an incomplete picture of teacher performance. According to Montgomery and Hadfield (1989), narrative style assessments will give worthwhile information of teacher performance. However, according to Turner and Clift, (1988), assessing teacher performances tends to focus only on the product rather than the process of teaching effectiveness. As a result, teacher appraisal is becoming more focused on judgment rather than improving practices.
- Assessment of Teacher Knowledge
Teacher should competent on pedagogical knowledge as well as content knowledge. Commonly, when assessing teacher knowledge using written test, teacher should achieve certain grade. However, according to Turner and Clift, (1988), there is a problem when teachers do not achieve a certain grade for this assessment, even though they are considered to be good teachers. Using interviews could help solve this problem, because interviews can be used as a process to investigate detailed information on events and how people respond to them (Burns, 1996).
- Interviews can be used for teacher evaluation to get in depth information of teachers’ knowledge, personal characters, and values which can not be done through classroom observation. Compared to observation, interviews can control the information that you need through the specific questions (Creswell, 2005). According to Montgomery and Hadfield (1989), the interview questions should be focused on teachers’ personal reflections. Semi-structured and unstructured interviews such as in-depth interviews or face-to-face interviews have several advantages. They show individual perspectives, capture the feeling of the participants, increase the trustworthiness of the information, and fit into the objectives of study (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998; Burns, 1999; Wiersma, 1991). Limitations associated with interviews are that they require intensive planning, professional skills to validate the interviews, they are time consuming, and they can be difficult to interpret and organize (Sells, Smith & Newfield, 1997). Despite these limitations, interviews are powerful when applied in teacher appraisal, since they provides meaningful information about teacher performances.
- Teacher Portfolio
Portfolios are a new approach to teacher evaluation which can empower teachers to reflect and improve their professional practices [which] allows teacher to present their work, change the ideas, and it explains the background and context of their teaching (Green & Snyser, 1996; Lacey, 1996). According to Gelfer, Xu, and Perkins, (2004), teacher portfolios can include achievement records, teachers’ work, observations, personal evaluation, curriculum development, and other data. However, according to Green and Snyser, (1996), when using portfolios as teacher evaluation, it is important to focus the skill and art of teaching, not skill and art to representing the portfolio. Therefore, it is important to give training to those assessing teacher portfolios.
Several Issues in Teacher Appraisal
There several issues of teacher evaluation which need to be addressed in order to improve teacher professional practices. These issues are discussed intensively in the the literature:
- The Methods of Assessment
Different methods can be used for teacher evaluation. However, it is important to recognize the limitations and advantages of each method. Moreover, different countries use different methods of teacher appraisal which depends on the context, objectives, and the resources such as money and time. The issue related to using the certain methods of assessment is scoring the teacher performance which could lead to subjectivity and vagueness if the assessment instruments do not have the clear assessment criteria. According to Liu and Teddlie, (2005), representing teacher performance into the number or score could provide misinterpretations of teacher performances. Every step of teacher appraisal itself could lead to the problems of interpretations. Therefore, it is important for both the teacher and appraisers to have a clear understanding ofthe criteria and requirements of teacher appraisal.
- Follow up Teacher Appraisal
Following up on the result of appraisal is important for sustaining teachers’ professionalism. According to Bollington, Hopkins, and West (1990), follow up should be taken to evaluate the achievement of the purposes of appraisal. Appraisal follow up should take the form of professional rather than career development and must match the model of the appraisal (Dempster, n.d.). In other words, teacher appraisal might fail if there is no systematic follow up (Turner & Clift, 1988). However, it is important not to put teachers under pressure on this follow up action, since it will influence the teaching improvement .
- The Appraisers
There are two main issues on appraisers of teacher appraisal: appraisers themselves and appraiser training. Currently appraisers are predominantly school principals and superintendents. According to Montgomery and Hadfield (1989, p.11), “superintendent would be involved in appraisal performance in the basic task, setting and appraising targets and developing a day to day management relationship”. However, involving others teacher’s’ colleagues, students, and parents for the assessments could give the complete picture of teacher’s performances. Since teacher appraisal plays important roles for teacher performances, it is important to train the appraisers, so that they have in depth understanding on giving comprehensive assessment on teacher evaluation. Appraisers should be trained in the procedural and substantive use of the teacher appraisal system (Bollington, Hopkins, & West, 1990). According to Turner and Clift (1988, p.210), “doubts and anxieties over their skills and credibility raises the issue of training for appraisers” … [the training] including the skill to collect valid and reliable evidence of teacher performance, carry out the appraisal interview, and deal with the appraisal outcomes. As a result, appraisers could enhance their professionalism as well as the reliability and validity of teacher appraisal.
- Teacher Resistances
According to Demspster (n.d.), teachers face constant policy and environment which lead to their resistances to reform and the resistances level will be higher if the appraisal focuses on judgment or career development rather than improvement. I believe that it is difficult and requires enormous time and intensive commitment to shift someone’s paradigms. Moreover, even though, the teacher receives the rewards for the good performances of teacher appraisal, such as better payment, it is difficult to shift teachers’ paradigms to demonstrate and value quality teaching (Ingvarson & Chadbourne, 1997). Therefore, in empowering teachers to perform better, it is important to deal with this problem.
Teacher appraisal is complex, but it could have positive impacts on teacher quality and teaching and learning. These positive impacts could be achieved if it is focusing on professional improvement without ignoring career development and encouraging teachers’ self assessment. There are several important points on teacher appraisal:
- Teacher as the center of teacher appraisal should be given the autonomy to reflect and assess their own professional practices. This self-assessment is considered more effective than the assessment from others.
- Integrated assessment from different methods of teacher appraisal could give the complete picture of teacher performances.
- Since teacher appraisal requires enormous resources of both time and money, it is important to follow up the results of teacher appraisal as ongoing evaluation to ensure the quality of teachers.
- Teachers could be resistance to reform their professional practices. Therefore, focusing on empowering teachers to reform is more important rather than focusing teacher judgment.
As a result, teacher appraisal would be an effective way to enhance teacher professionalism and the teaching and learning process.