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How effective are your teacher evaluations? Are they being conducted according to the universal guidelines set out by your school district? It’s possible that they are not being conducted accurately.

That was the finding of a consulting group that analyzed the evaluations conducted for Idaho’s school systems. The review revealed that 99 percent of its teachers underwent evaluations that were completed incorrectly. In some cases, they were even considered illegal.

According to the report’s findings, school administrators either did not understand the evaluation guidelines or simply ignored them. As a result, the final recommendation was to train all teachers, supervisors and other leaders.

“Inconsistent implementation suggests that some districts either selected not to follow the prescribed process or lacked sufficient understanding of the system,” according to the authors of consulting group McREL, which conducted the review.

Some of the top errors cited in the report included failing to conduct two classroom observations, not setting goals, and turning in evaluations late.

Here are several tips to ensure that evaluations are being conducted accurately by reviewers:

Implement training. Training for the trainers is essential as part of the teacher evaluation process. Equip your team with the tools that they need. Clearly outline the expectations and allow for feedback and questions on the process.

Stress the importance of the evaluations. Make sure you communicate that teacher evaluations are a priority. It should be stressed in the weeks and months leading up to the process. Build up anticipation around the process, sending out communications in advance to outline the process and set expectations. Let the reviewers know that you will be following up on the outcomes.

Allow for sufficient time. One thing most school employees have in common is the challenge of doing more in less time — or at least it seems. Further emphasize the importance of the evaluations by giving teachers and reviewers the time they need to sufficiently prepare for the employee evaluation, as well as conduct it and follow up.

Streamline the process. If the teacher evaluation process is too cumbersome, look for ways to streamline it. Use online tools to store feedback, scores (if you use them) and training recommendations. This adds another level of accountability. If supervisors and other team members can easily access information, you are reinforcing the importance of teacher evaluations.

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