"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Teachers for the 21st Century

This year, the International Summit on the Teaching Profession (ISTP) was held in Amsterdam. One of the issues discussed was evaluation of teachers. And in line with this issue was a report from the secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report is entitled, "Teachers for the 21st Century: Using Evaluation to Improve Teaching".



The volume is mainly based on the teacher appraisal chapter of the final synthesis report from the OECD Review on Evaluation and Assessment Frameworks for Improving School Outcomes, which was drafted principally by Deborah Nusche, together with Thomas Radinger, Paulo Santiago and Claire Shewbridge of the OECD Early Childhood Education and Schools Division. The analysis and case studies from countries taking part in the summit that are not represented in the OECD review were prepared by Kristen Weatherby. The volume was edited by Andreas Schleicher in collaboration with Kristen Weatherby, Marilyn Achiron and Giannina Rech and in consultation with the summit co-sponsors, education international and the ministry of education of the Netherlands. 


Reading through this report, I am reminded of a statement Pasi Sahlberg made while speaking at the Teachers College at Columbia University, "There's no word for accountability in Finnish. Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted." Among the countries surveyed in this report, Finland is not the only one that does not have a formal national policy for teacher evaluation:


Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Spain likewise do not have a national policy framework for teacher appraisal. The report, however, is quick to point out that;
"...the absence of policy frameworks for teacher appraisal does not mean that teachers receive no professional  feedback. In Denmark, for example, while teacher appraisal is not conducted systematically at the national level, teachers typically receive appraisal or feedback from their school leaders once a year. In Norway, teacher-appraisal approaches are not regulated nationally, but are designed at the local and/or school level. In Iceland, teacher appraisal is conducted at the discretion of individual schools and school boards...." 
It is also interesting to note that among the countries listed in the table above, only three, Chile, South Korea, and Mexico, have a reward scheme. Teacher appraisal is indeed a formidable task especially if class observations are included. In this area, time as well as manpower are necessary. The following is a table describing who does evaluations of classroom instruction in the countries included in this report:


It is therefore tempting to use test scores or other learning outcome statistics as a shortcut to evaluating teachers.  Unfortunately, these measures do not really help inform the teacher of what measures need to be taken. For a teacher appraisal scheme to be useful for professional development, the method obviously must go beyond test scores. The following box describes an example from South Korea:

OECD(2013), Teachers for the 21st Century: Using Evaluation to Improve Teaching, OECD publishing.
The report concludes with the following lessons:

Lessons on teacher appraisal
Governance 
clarify the purposes of teacher appraisal and ensure that they are aligned with national education objectives.
establish teaching standards to guide teachers’ professional development and appraisal.
establish a coherent framework for teacher appraisal. 
Procedures 
use multiple instruments and sources of evidence.
provide support for effective classroom observations.
avoid using student feedback for summative appraisal. 
Capacity 
strengthen pedagogical leadership to enhance internal school appraisal processes.
Build the capacity of evaluators and those being evaluated for effective teacher appraisal.
Develop central expertise to continuously monitor and improve appraisal policies and practices. 
Use of results 
ensure that formative teacher appraisal feeds into professional development and school development.
use the results of summative teacher appraisal for career-advancement decisions.
ensure effective use of results by addressing the challenges of implementation.

Teacher appraisals must make teachers think more about their students. Tying teacher evaluations to salaries or bonuses simply divert the attention of teachers to themselves, their needs, and especially the fact that they are often underpaid and overworked. Teacher appraisals must lead into professional development.





2 comments:

  1. that same document had good things to say about teacher incentives...

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  2. The main topic of the document is dissecting various means of teaching appraisal as well as its relationship to professional development. You are once again distorting the spirit of the study. The DepEd's PBB scheme is not a formative assessment. It does not provide professional development, it does not even inform teachers what they need to do to improve, and it does not guide educators to draw the correct policies for education reform.

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