What is Fair in Teacher Evaluations?
Our staff just found out some important and interesting information regarding our evaluation process. The news, which I am generally indifferent to, came as somewhat surprising considering I served on the committee which worked for two years to create and tinker with our evaluation plan.
Our evaluation plan has six domains, five of which relate directly to classroom instruction. Each of those domains were given indicators to support the overall domain's intent. Here is one of the domains, and its indicators:
Domain 4: Instruction for Active Learning
- Well-defined content and language objectives were posted.
- Examples were relevant and connect to students' lives.
- Effective teaching strategies, instructional aids, media, and resources prompted student engagment.
- Explanations were clear.
- Differentiation of instruction evident.
- Higher level questioning was evident.
- Initiation and closure evident.
- Lesson was relevant, motivating, and engaging.
Now to the news. If any of those eight indicators is marked as "No" or not evident, the evaluator is expected to mark the teacher as "Not meeting standards" for the entire domain. So, if I were to have seven of those indicators marked as "Yes," but missed out on posting my objectives, I am considered as incompetent at Instruction for Active Learning.
Now, I can't help but wonder whether we would dare hold our students to a similar standard. Would a student essay which is well-organized, persuasive in tone and effect, but lacking evidence of an effective conclusion be marked as failing the essay completely?
These are the issues which cause teachers to grow cynical. While we are told this is not a "gotcha" process, the notion that missing 1 out of 8 indicators makes us a failure, and that is precisely what such a policy implies, creates an atmosphere of distrust and fear.
In the end, I wonder what my global colleagues think about their evaluation process. Is it fair? Is it even possible to have fairness when dealing with human evaluators with different ideas of what is and is not evident?