Evaluation Procedures, or the “How”
Evaluation procedures are those methods (the “how”) that teachers use to document or demonstrate their skills and knowledge (the “what,” or the criteria of good teaching). The “how” and the “what,” of course, must be aligned. For every aspect of performance deemed essential to good practice, teachers must have a way to document their skill. Developing assessments that are valid and reliable demands that we devote serious attention to the procedural aspects of evaluation.
Many educators have discovered an even more compelling reason to design the procedures carefully. People learn from what they do; schools and districts can design evaluation procedures that provide opportunities for professional learning for teachers. That is, teachers may actually improve their practice by engaging in the activities required as part of the evaluation process.
We can pursue conversation and decisions regarding evaluation procedures on two levels: the general procedures and the detailed instruments and procedures.
Given the complexity of teaching and the long list of teaching skills (including, possibly, evidence of student learning), how, in general, will teachers demonstrate their skill? What will they do? Will the system include classroom observation? Will it include a professional portfolio? Will procedures for new teachers be different from those for veterans? Issues addressed here include differentiated procedures (for probationary and nonprobationary teachers), types of evaluation activities, time lines for evaluation activities, and personnel to be included.
Teaching, alone among the professions, makes the same demands on novices as on experienced practitioners. The moment firstyear teachers enter their first classroom, they are held to the same standard and subjected to the same procedures as their more experienced colleagues.
Most other professions build in a period of apprenticeship. Doctors participate in internships and residencies, intensive experiences that prepare them for the rigors of independent practice. Accountants and architects are hired by firms, where they work—for a few years at least—under the close supervision of a veteran. But teachers are simply “thrown in the deep end,” receiving little real assistance from other teachers in the school. In some cases, schools