Teachers get grades, too

Every student is used to being assessed in the classroom. But how are teacher performances measured?

Graphic by Emmi Wu ’23/Staff

The proper method for assessing teachers accurately has plagued school districts for years. Teachers often adjust lessons during evaluations- which makes finding how teachers actually instruct their classes without a supervisor’s presence is near impossible. If an administrator stops by a classroom, especially during a scheduled visit, teachers can easily showcase their best teaching practices for the hour. They can reach far into their mind to bring out the best facts, jokes, and examples that make their classroom seem like a nurturing learning environment. However, it is hard to know whether or not that is actually how the teacher spends most of their class time. While standardized tests can account for what a teacher has taught their students, test scores can vary among students based on their different work ethics, drives, and test-taking abilities. Student reviews can help to form an opinion on a teacher’s performance, but these evaluations may be filled with inaccurate assessments based on opinions on the grade they may have received. The many outlets each have their own small benefits, but the ineffective issues creep in with every method.  

A new, state-approved form encapsulates more than just a standard check into the teacher’s performance and draws from many different types of reviews. The PA-ETEP, created by EduLink, is a comprehensive review of a teacher’s entire skills from many different sources. In an effort to combat the problems that plague districts who simply assess teacher’s based on administrative check-ins, the PA-ETEP system collects many different bits of information to draw a review of the teacher. The different categories include Walkthrough and Anecdotal Notes, the ability to store Attachments, Dynamic Reports, Principal Performance Goals (PPG), and Formal Observations with 82/13 Rating Forms. 

These individual categories contribute to the overall assessment of the teacher. Formal Observations are similar to the traditional method for assessing teachers as they involve an administrator arriving at a classroom and reporting on teachers’
behavior and lessons. However, the Walkthrough and Anecdotal Notes piece attempts to combat the issue of the planned visit. Walkthroughs include the tiny pieces of information on teacher’s professionalism, while Anecdotal Notes include comments from other teachers regarding an educator’s behavior. However, in order to avoid any bias that may creep in from teachers towards their co-workers, comments must fit into specific categories of the PA-ETEP evaluation system. A teacher cannot lambaste a co-worker for stealing their worksheet or a snarky comment; instead, they must comment on the lack of professionalism of a colleague in a specific category. Teachers are also able to respond to the feedback that they receive on the site to reflect on how they can improve. The Principal Performance Goals (PPG) section of the review makes it much easier for principals and other administrators to examine how well their ideas are implemented in their schools and districts. This section of the evaluation examines if teachers are following supervisor directions and rules in their classroom, giving administrators an idea of how their policies are being distributed throughout the school. 

Ultimately, all of the information that was compiled from the many different platforms is summed up in the Act 82/13 Rating Form with a final score. The goal of this final form is to simply have a summative rating for the teacher with all of the evidence readily available. Teachers are given a rating of either Distinguished, Proficient, Needs Improvement, Failing, or a separate rating category of Unsatisfactory or Satisfactory. The final form simply serves as a summative review of the teacher. Administrators popping in on teachers can serve like safari cameramen in the middle of the Serengeti, as the interactions are never fully original. The PA-ETEP system tries to curb the issue by drawing from a wide range of settings in order to determine whether students are getting the most out of their time in class.  

Implementing this system in LMSD could allow the district to draw accurate conclusions on the performance of teachers. It captures a wide range of information based on teacher performance and could help the district to single out which teachers are performing exceptionally and which are not meeting district expectations. The new program could ensure that teachers who are given long-term employment are qualified for their positions, especially before providing teachers with any tenure. The PA-ETEP system aims to guarantee that LM teachers are effectively instructing their classes and benefiting their students’ education. 

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