So how do we evaluate our students?
As we know, testing is an important tool to measure student performance, but it can be very time-consuming and expensive. At my school, we are currently looking at trying to find an automated online platform that provides us with growth data, is easy to use and cost-effective. At present, we have been beta-testing a program called Iready. The program is easy to use and provides the teacher with a baseline assessment, growth indicators and extra information on the strategies that the student needs work on. This program still needs some more testing, but it looks like a cost-effective tool for us to measure English reading and listening literacy.
What makes a good teacher?
With a student assessment program in place, we now need to think about how we evaluate our teachers. According to James Stronge, teachers can be evaluated by the following criteria:
• professional knowledge • instructional planning • instructional delivery • use of assessment • learning environment • professionalism • student progress
To collect data on instructional planning and professionalism, an administration can setup up a system like Google docs that will allow for collaborative planning online in the cloud. This lets the administration browse planners, documents and leave formative at any time without making extra work for the teacher. For assessing instructional delivery, learning environment and professionalism, a schedule of planned and unplanned teacher observations should be developed. In this case, it is important to try and make the observations as long as possible. This is due to the fact that short observations don’t produce enough data. Teachers must also be provided with a rubric that that will be used to assess them.
To assess student performance, a testing system must be adopted that measures student growth. The second part of measuring student performance will include a system of anonymous student surveys given by the subject teacher. These surveys will be used by the teacher as a means of personal formative feedback.
My Action Plan for Implementation
• At present, we have been trialing various online testing systems that will help measure our students’ performance. The online solution seems to be the most effect means of testing. The first baseline test usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes, but after that it only takes about 15 minutes for bi-monthly growth tracking tests. The current system we have provides teacher-friendly reports that can be used to measure student growth. However, internet connectivity and the amount of devices needed can be an issue for some schools.
• Being an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme school, we use the IB planners online with Google docs, giving us easy access to our teachers planning tools and documentation folders.
• From September, we will try and implement a program of frequent teacher observations. As part of this plan, I will make sure to drop into each classroom daily for a short period on non-observation days. This way, the students will begin to get used to my presence in the classroom. If the observer’s presence disturbs the class the data collected is compromised. We will also try to keep an open classroom policy where teachers are welcome to drop into another teacher’s classes. The rationale behind this is that teachers will have a better idea of good practice in that specific school’s teaching culture. Off-the-record positive peer feedback helps all teachers grow and builds the collaborative culture of the school.
• Finally, we will try having the teachers implement a student survey after each unit of inquiry to help the teacher assess how things went. These surveys should be anonymous so that the students can give their honest opinion. They should be used by the teacher as personal tool for growth in a non-official way.
I believe the following program will help my school evaluate the teachers and help them grow.