Generating criteria for evaluating teachers through teacher effectiveness research
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One of the major problems that confronts most educational systems concerns the need for developing a valid personnel evaluation system based on a strong theoretical framework. Unless the criteria for evaluating teachers emerge from tested theories on teacher and school effectiveness, evaluators cannot readily be accountable for how their judgements about teacher performance have been arrived at. The main theoretical models of teacher effectiveness research (TER) can be seen as a source for generating a set of criteria for teacher evaluation that captures the multiple teacher roles in changing the educational environment. Teachers themselves should also be engaged in the process of generating such criteria, if they are to accept them as a means for measuring their professional effectiveness. Purpose The study attempts to generate measurable criteria of teacher evaluation, by taking into account the main principles upon which the various theoretical models of TER have been developed. Teachers' perceptions of the appropriateness of these criteria for conducting formative and summative evaluation are investigated. Sample A questionnaire was administered to a stratified sample of 355 Cypriot primary teachers and 237 completed questionnaires were returned. The sample was representative of the Cypriot primary teacher population in terms of gender (male: 25.3%, female: 74.7%), administrative position (teachers: 75.4%, deputy headteachers: 16.5%, headteachers: 8.1%) and teaching experience (mean: 14.8 years). Design and methods Drawing on the main models of TER, 42 criteria of teacher evaluation were developed. Teachers were asked to evaluate the appropriateness of each criterion twice, both for formative and summative purposes. Descriptive analysis was used to identify teachers' perceptions concerning the appropriateness of those criteria, while the application of Pearson correlation indicated whether teachers evaluated in comparable ways the criteria for formative and summative purposes. Cluster analysis was employed to examine whether teachers' evaluations of the 42 criteria mirrored the grouping of the criteria in the TER models from which they were drawn. Kendall's test was used to identify whether there was consensus among teachers regarding the way in which they ranked those criteria for either of the two evaluation purposes. Results The 42 criteria were classified into six categories which were comparable to the theoretical models of TER. Cypriot teachers considered the criteria related to the ‘Working process’ model as the most appropriate for conducting both formative and summative evaluation, while the criteria that emerged from the ‘School constituencies satisfaction’ model and the ‘Accountability’ model were seen as the least appropriate. The study indicated that the appropriateness of the criteria used for teacher evaluation cannot be judged unless it is clear whether they are employed for formative or summative evaluation purposes. Conclusions TER can comprise a significant source for drawing criteria for teacher evaluation. Cypriot teachers acknowledged the importance of developing distinct criteria for formative and summative evaluation purposes. The process of developing teacher evaluation criteria could be further supported were it informed by the integrated multilevel school effectiveness models that have the potential to place multiple aspects of the teacher role in a wider perspective of school realities.