George Lucas Educational Foundation

Teachers Supporting Teachers: Peer Evaluation Program Is Proof Positive

This program in Cincinnati provides a successful and streamlined process for teacher evaluations.
Edutopia Team
Related Tags: Assessment, All Grades
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Credit: Max Seabaugh

Cincinnati's Peer Assistance and Evaluation Program (PAEP) addresses problems that vex many school districts: how to find sufficient time to evaluate teachers, help those who are inexperienced or aren't performing up to par, and avoid a protracted dismissal process for those who fail to improve. PAEP, like similar programs in a handful of other districts across the nation, solves these problems by empowering teachers to evaluate and monitor their own ranks.

Under PAEP, experienced teachers are released from classroom duties for two years to supervise and assist new teachers, as well as evaluate and support veteran teachers who are experiencing difficulties in their classrooms. These teachers, known as "consulting teachers" or "CTs," are trained in clinical supervision and curriculum development and observe models of effective teaching at the district's professional development academy.

They are then assigned a maximum of fourteen new and veteran teachers and spend between forty to one-hundred hours with each one, observing and commenting on their practice, assisting in the design of curricula and assessments, modeling lesson plans, and helping establish discipline procedures.

Both teachers and administrators say the program is achieving its goal of improving the competency of the district's teachers. At the same time, it has improved relations between the district and its teachers' union and made it easier to dismiss teachers who fail to make agreed-upon improvements.

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William M. Fox's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Placing almost exclusive emphasis upon test-score improvement as a basis for rewarding teachers is patently unfair and, when coupled with inadequate performance-appraisal systems, drives teachers toward unethical behavior. Use of an appraisal system based upon the following guidelines should go a long way toward turning things around.

Those associated with schools, need to fairly identify true "stars" and "inadequate performers" as one of the bases for:

justifying good pay for outstanding teachers,

providing for self-guidance on the part of newcomers and present staff,

and providing an important basis for terminating those who cannot, or will not, measure up.

Research findings show that evaluators achieve much better agreement about who are Stars and Inadequate Performers than they do about who are Average, Above-Average, and Below-Average performers. Yet, placing individuals in the middle-three categories is a time-consuming, often arbitrary, and resentment-causing activity that most evaluators dislike having to do. Also, clearly, an average performer in a superior organization deserves much more recognition than an average performer in an inferior one. No wonder that many teachers and their unions oppose conventional merit-rating systems!

To avoid a popularity contest, assure greater fairness, and provide for constructive self-guidance, there should be behavioral documentation for both Star and Inadequate Performer nominations via the Critical Incident Technique.
To lay the groundwork for this, students, parents, veteran administrators, and experienced teachers should be polled at to what specific, observable behaviors they associate with outstanding and inadequate performance for each important aspect of a teacher's job.

Then, required behavioral documentation for Star and Inadequate-Performer nominations from fellow teachers, adminstrators, students, and parents should be based upon the most agreed-upon behaviors, and the agreed-to relative weights that should be assigned to these.

The results of this analysis can also constructively guide the initial training and subsequent selection of teachers, as well as, provide a much-needed, qualifying context for the currently over-stressed evaluation factor of test-score-improvement.

This approach also sets the stage for more productive review sessions between the rater and ratee. Since the ratee has a sound basis for self-rating, the session should start with the rater asking "How do you rate yourself for this past period through the presentation of relevant, supporting behaviors?" No rater can be all-knowing, so if behaviors are mentioned that she or he is not aware of, the rater can postpone giving his or her evaluation to provide time to check out the validity of the assertions, if this seems necessary.

A sound behavioral basis for rating also facilitates the use of motivational goal setting during the review session. For example, if the ratee wants to be a Star, what specific behavioral goals does she or he plan to adopt by such and such a time? If stardom is not the goal, which specific, Inadequate Performer behaviors will he or she need to avoid?
This approach permits a rater to be more of a counselor and coach, than one who appears to sit in arbitrary judgment.

For discussion of relevant research and related citations, see: "Improving Performance Appraisal Systems" by William M. Fox, NATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY REVIEW, Winter 1987-88, pages 20-27.

William Fox
Professor Emeritus
Department of Management
University of Florida
(352) 376-9786

Diane Tribbett's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The concept of polling stake holders regarding specific and observable behaviors makes sense. Has this been done somewhere? I do not want to re-invent the wheel, but I am looking for a jargon-free, behavioral rubric (or even a list of star teacher behaviors) that could be used by my first year alternative licensure teachers to self-evaluate. I want them to view videos of their own teaching and evaluate themselves. Their self-evaluation will lead to coaching conversations with me.

I assume that "star" and "inadequate" teaching is at least somewhat universal. Is there a tool that someone could share that is (I repeat) jargon-free, behavioral, and specific re. what a teacher might look for as they view their own teaching?

freddi greenmantle's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I was a primary classteacher for 30 years, with a "clean" record of 20 yrs servise at my last school.
In March 2008 allegations were made against me which were investigated by the police. They found no evidence, but I was unable to return to work because the LEA said they had further reason to probably sack me for gross misconduct.I was offered resignation or the sack. Guess which one I chose!
I am now 2 years away from retirement but cannot retire early, cannot work (emotional distress) and have no income.
Anyone out there had similar problems?
Anyone any solutions?......Hope to hear from someone.

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