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Teacher Evaluation as a Growth Process: Historical Data

The following is an excerpt from Dr Dianna Whitlock’s published book, “Teacher Evaluation as a Growth Process.” To purchase the full book, visit Amazon or Barnes&Noble.

Part 1, Chapter 3: Historical Data

The previous chapter gave us reasons to evaluate.  In this chapter, we examine the backstory, or historical perspectives that brought us to these revelations and changed the way we evaluate. We mentioned that prior to 2010, there had been little change to the evaluation process. Prior to 2010, teacher evaluations were only truly utilized and monitored for teacher dismissal. In addition, there was a “lack of urgency” (Andrews, 2016, Powerpoint slide 5) when analyzing teacher and administrator evaluations, as schools and legislators concentrated on implementing school improvement initiatives that focused solely on instructional practices and student achievement scores.

The theory of lack of urgency refers to Jon Kotter’s work which states, “The basic pattern is simple:  urgency leads to success leads to complacency.” (Kotter, 2008, p. 170). In the early stages of an organization, all parties involved are working long hours striving toward a common goal.  This may be a targeted sales number, or success of a specific initiative.  It is during these times of high urgency that we often produce our best work. Once the goal or quota is met, there is a tendency to backslide a little in terms of productivity. The goal of any organization, in Kotter’s theory, is to create and maintain this high sense of urgency while not over stressing or burning out your best employees (Kotter, 2008).

In the school setting, we often see this occur in reference to student test scores or school grades.  Often the school that strives to become a high-ranking school according to the mandated metric will reach the goal one year, only to regress the next.

In regard to teacher evaluation, we saw this lack of urgency from busy administrators and veteran teachers alike.  If teachers were doing well (success), administrators may be willing to remove their focus from teacher evaluations (complacency) and instead spend time on a more pressing initiative.

I do not believe that administrators intentionally ignored teacher evaluation. How many times, as a school administrator, have we set as a goal to work on teacher evaluations on our morning drive to school, only to arrive at our offices and be greeted by those daily management tasks that take us away from our position as an instructional leader?

To continue reading, click here to purchase the full book.

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