To Average, or Not to Average, That Is the Question
Throughout many trainings on teacher evaluation, a question I often hear asked surrounds the idea of averaging marks in a teacher observation and evaluation. Is it good, or not so good, to do that? Based on conversations that I have had with administrators, there is no right or wrong answer, but rather some things to think about:
- The purpose behind an evaluation process is not to catch a teacher redhanded, and it is not something done to them. Rather, it exists to create better teachers and is a process best completed alongside them.
- It is imperative that an administrator understand the evidence, what the various levels of the rubric mean, and that good teaching skills may be observed over many different areas and in places other than the classroom.
- The observation and evaluation promotes professional learning.
A suggested, strong process for teacher evaluation includes two things:
1. Good Judgement
The administrator observes and will use good professional judgment to decide which competencies matter the most for teachers, in different contexts, and how teachers have evolved over the course of the year. Here’s a good example:
In the first observation of the year, the teacher was rated Ineffective at Checks for Understanding. By the second observation at the end of the year, the administrator has worked with that teacher and given them activities to increase ability in this area, so the teacher was rated Effective.
If those two scores were averaged, the teacher would be considered Improvement Necessary. That is not really where that teacher should be leveled. If the teacher’s practice grew over the year and they have responded to feedback, then teacher has improved. Therefore, their summative rating should be Effective.
2. Teacher Reflection
The teacher is given the opportunity for reflection on the evaluation and is given opportunities for professional conversations to enhance skills.
Whatever the decision (to average, or not to average), the whole process should be geared towards creating Better Teachers, Better Students, Better World.