A Scorecard for Teacher Performance

22 Mar

 

How does one measure what a teacher brings to class?

There are sophisticated metrics out there in theory and in practice.

For me, the simplest way to measure teacher contribution is to measure what the students achieve without a teacher, and compare it with what they do if they have a teacher.

And there-in lies the biggest trap. However simple the methodology, one cannot get away from teh fact that the only thing that can be measured is the examination or test performance of students. There is no other way of proving that the teacher is doing what they are supposed to do in class.

 

But all that a teacher does can never be measured. Where can that encouraging word be tracked that changed a child from a wallflower to a confident speaker? How does one measure kindness that helped a child become comfortable with a subject. Or measure the way a teacher encouraged children to try something new. My favourite was a teacher who never really taught their subject through the year, but told lots of stories. An observant gentleman, he used to finish his syllabus in a third of the time allotted (he taught a language) and would tell stories that spoke to the current issues the young children in his class were facing. He organised games, and competitions, put enemies together in teams and brought a sense of cohesion to his classes. Year after year. Of course he could have improved student achievement marginally by drilling them more and more in the time he had to spare, but chose to invest in pastoral care that would yield results to his students for many years.

The Gates Foundation study on teacher performance found that a better way of measuring  teacher performance included observations. They came up with a systematic process that they recommended. It included various scores – including observations. While observations are an excellent tool for teacher improvement they must be used with care. And need an atmosphere of trust to succeed.

There is nothing like a mentor to improve teacher performance. Whether onsite or just a phone call away, teachers benefit from sharing reflections on their own practice and their reactions to student inputs. But again, how would one measure this improvement if not in student achievements. (Also, with a mentor network, the statistics monster would need to measure mentor performance too)

 

One way to measure teacher performance is to create a scorecard of sorts that would measure various aspects of their performance, including student achievement. A good teacher does a lot more than just teach to the examination, and once other aspects are measured (and hopefully rewarded) more teachers will expand their repertoire.

At best, one can have a scorecard for every teacher, a composite of all their responsibilities – planning, team teaching, administration, record keeping, tracking student achievement. They need to be assessed too – by mentors, peers and themselves. Feedback on their teaching practice via observations by all three could also be on the scorecard, as should a record of their personal engagement with self development via training, reading, blog-writing and more.

Of course, the question remains: Why would you want to evaluate a teacher?

One, to eliminate the bad teachers. Two, to encourage the good ones. Also, three, to convert bad teachers to good with feedback and support. Measuring teacher performance must lead to support and encouragement, else it will be reduced to a political blame game.

Teacher evaluation and performance measurement is merely the first step, the game starts there.

 

This was published in the Times of India blogs on March 20, 2013 and is linked here and http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/educable/entry/measuring-teacher-performance

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