Newsletter 85 Teacher Appraisal - IQMS

Teacher quality, appraisal and development: The flaws in the IQMS – “Perspectives in Education, Volume 26(1), March 2008” by FRANCINE DE CLERCQ

Conclusion: Another way?

  • This article has argued that although the lessons from teacher appraisal, monitoring and support worldwide are valuable, no teacher appraisal system can be borrowed and transplanted verbatim into another context.
  • This is because countries differ in their school system, in the extent to which teachers view themselves as professionals, whether they work in a collegial school culture, and whether school-based collective sharing and data-based reflection on learners' results and teaching practices is productive.
  • Above all, a teacher appraisal system should be based on valid/realistic assumptions about the specific teaching realities and the available professional appraisal and support capacity in the system. It should engage with the way teachers and departmental officials perceive teachers' work and responsibilities and strive towards reaching some basic consensus.
  • Too often policy analyses and departmental policy reviews recommend building system and school capacity, but omit to examine whether the policy, – or in this case, the IQMS – needs to be changed so that it reflects the local context, where educators and schools are at, and how they need to change and improve.
  • The Minister of Education has recently hinted at the need to establish a National Education Evaluation Assessment Unit with well-trained national or provincial officials who will moderate the IQMS findings. It is argued here that such tweaking with the present system will not address the core problems of the IQMS.
  • A more realistic educator appraisal/evaluation system in South Africa is needed.
  • I am suggesting that two separate evaluation systems are required with their own instruments: an external standardised system (which can monitor educator performance across the system) and a district-moderated school-based developmental and performance appraisal system, which relates to the national system but is contextual and is backed up by more effective appraisers and support capacity.
  • Appraisal will have legitimacy and positive results only when adequate support resources and capacity are mobilised and sensibly targeted at the differentiated educators' needs.
  • To start with, the department needs to take stock, with the use of professional evaluators, of the different work demands made on educators, especially in poorly resourced low-functioning schools, and then devise ways of meeting the needs of schools and districts to support these educators. Such support intervention should also explicitly target a change in department officials' and educators' perceptions, attitudes and beliefs about teaching to transform individualised fragmented institutional cultures into collective open collaborative cultures.
  • This needs to be backed up with incentives and produce positive experiences about the value of educators working together. It is only then that meaningful assistance is likely to assist educators, who should then account for their changed practices.
  • Finally, one cannot but emphasise the importance of departmental and school leadership in learning how to read and negotiate the inevitable tensions and dilemmas which arise among different school stakeholders when implementing ambitious and complex curriculum, assessment and appraisal policies.

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