It is widely acknowledged in research around quality teacher appraisal systems that the outcomes of effective teacher appraisal systems focus not only on the quality issues associated with effective teaching but, at the same time, learning for the teacher and students.
In support of these research-based outcomes, the Elgin Teachers Association (ETA), District Administration, and the Board of Education agreed upon specific purposes and outcomes for the U-46 Teacher Appraisal Plan (TAP). The purposes and outcomes of TAP are:
- Support and focus on professional growth and development in a quest for distinguished levels of performance
- Unify certified staff members and administration in its pursuit to maximize student learning
- Ensure a quality professional staff
- Provide choice for certified staff
- Provide a differentiated appraisal plan for ten different certified staff constituents as well as tenured and pre-tenured certified staff
The TAP, comprised of two well-defined components, Professional Practice, and Student Growth, is designed to meet the needs of licensed staff at different points in one’s career journey. During the pre-tenured years, the TAP is dedicated to helping newly hired teachers become successful in their work. New teachers are given the opportunity to accelerate their learning and move more rapidly to proficiency. In those beginning years, there is a heavier emphasis on monitoring quality control to assure that effective teachers are maintained in the school district. As teachers move through their career journey and become tenured, the focus of the TAP shifts from a monitoring emphasis to one of professional growth and continuous learning.
A rich body of research about teacher evaluation and appraisal was used in the design of the TAP. At the core of this research is Charlotte Danielson’s Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching (ASCD, 2013). The Framework provides the research-based definition of effective teaching in U-46 and is acknowledged as another very important aspect of the U-46 TAP. The Framework for Teaching is defined by four domains:
- Planning and Preparation
- Classroom Environment (The Environment)
- Instruction (or Delivery of Service)
- Professional Responsibilities
The Framework employs the use of a research-based level of performance rubric in order to determine the performance range. The levels of performance are:
In order to support the purposes and outcomes, the TAP Professional Practice component has been built around three main elements. They are:
- Professional Development
The TAP Student Growth component has two primary elements:
- Reflective practice with a partner
- Student Learning Objective (SLO) Process
These TAP components and the use of The Framework, as well as the outcomes and purposes, are supported by a set of shared values and beliefs around how to use the TAP with efficacy and fidelity. It is with shared agreement by all parties using the TAP, and a commitment to using all aspects of the TAP with fidelity and efficacy that will allow these stated purposes and outcomes to be realized.
Trust: a firm belief in the reliability or truth or strength of a person
Fairness: free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice
Professionalism: having or showing the skill of a professional, competent
Collaboration: to work jointly
Continuous Learning: to continually study to acquire new knowledge
Teaching and learning: methods of helping all students to learn successfully
Equity (Appropriateness): fairness; the application of general principles of justice to correct or supplement the law
- We believe in a presumption of competence. That all licensed staff are trained professionals, competent to do the work for which they are assigned.
- We believe that to have an effective licensed staff, we must be supportive, not punitive, in our approach to appraisal, within the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement.
- We believe an adequate amount of resources must be available to licensed staff and administrators to complete the work of TAP.
- We believe that data and evidence should drive decisions about licensed staff, not speculation or opinions.
- We believe that consisent district criteria must be known to all so all participants in the TAP can make well informed decisions.
- We believe in due process.
- We believe professional development is positive, supportive and will retain a quality licensed staff. We also recognize that licensed staff should have choice when determining the type of professional development for their career.
- We believe licensed staff should be setting goals, self-evaluating their progress, and reflecting on their classroom decisions.
- We believe time is valuable. The activities required for the TAP are to develop and maintain a quality licensed staff.
- We believe that licensed staff should be involved in a cycle of learning and development. Teaching is not an event, but rather an ongoing personal experience from which licensed staff grow and develop.
- We believe that the focus of the TAP should be on a licensed staff's strengths as well as areas for growth. It is with positive support the licensed staff can enhance his/her practice.
- We believe the TAP holds licensed staff accountable to themselves and one another. Accountability also extends to impacting higher levels of student achievement.
- We believe the TAP is conversation based. Teachers and administrators are discussing teaching and learning. It is not a checklist, rather a process of looking closely at professional practice.
- We believe choices must be available to licensed staff when selecting professional development. Our licensed staff is large and diverse. It is important to have relevant and meaningful options that licensed staff can select that will encourage active participation by all.