Learning Evaluation System
Theory of Action: A Learning Evaluation
The best way to eliminate the disparity between what we say and what we do and to invite the jugular questions is to forge a unified theory of action, shared across a school or district, that both explains and determines the actions that members take as individuals and as a community.
(Moss and Brokehart, 2012, p. 9)
Consulting research on performance appraisals, current teacher appraisal policies and programs and systems, and the research on learning organizations and professional learning communities (PLCs), we can now set out a theory of action. Teachers are assessed on their ability to perform in a PLC. As a result, teacher reflection increases. Teachers become more aware of the impact of their actions. Professional learning and status advances, becoming more relevant and applicable to their jobs. As a result, student learning increases.
In previous chapters, we have laid the foundation for a new process. Traditional systems and structures have not served our teachers or children, but only as a result of the faulty assumptions on which the system was built. Those assumptions have compounded into a system that is incoherent, inconsistent, focused on the wrong actions and lacks processes to positively impact professional learning, teacher improvement and school improvement. The literature is consistent on that point. For whatever the reason, teacher evaluation has not worked. Now that we have new
Theory of Action
Teachers are assessed on their ability to perform within a learning organization and learning teams.
Teacher reflection increases, professional learning advances, teamwork is influenced, improvement of practice becomes more effective.
Figure 6./ Theory of action
assumptions a system can be built with the correct processes and with appropriate emphasis on teacher and principal actions that have an impact on student learning.
A new evaluation is presented in this chapter. True to the term "evaluation," it is subjective in nature and requires principals and teachers to embrace a standard of professionalism not previously realized. A Teacher Evaluation Rubric, Student-Centered Evaluation Rubric and Assumptions Guide and a Learning Script are provided to start schools on a path to build an evaluation that will work for them.
I am reluctant to release these documents. My fear is that they will be misused, in the same manner that the term "PLC" has been misused by so many. I must stress that these are simply examples of a process-oriented evaluation system based on PLC principles. The danger in all of this lies with people who think they can print these documents and use them tomorrow. There is a lot of frontloading that has to happen before the documents can be used. We are attempting to make a big shift in school cultures. We are one hundred years into this mess. There is no quick fix.
These documents, and any other document that educators use to improve their practice, need to be introduced, examined, placed into a local context and collectively implemented, reduced or expanded. A learning evaluation will make teachers' and principals' lives easier by focusing their attention on what matters most. However, if the faulty structures and assumptions of the old system are not critically examined first and rebuilt, there is danger in moving too fast in finally creating a system that works.
The important aspect about the documents is not the literal words, or even the documents themselves, but the mindframe from which they were created. It is my hope that if reading this book has inspired anyone with the power to create a teacher evaluating system, they would consult these documents as examples only, and use the processes to create a local system that works for their district or school.
High-quality teachers have an impact on student performance and collaborate with each other to do so. If a school desires to improve student performance, the most effective action educators can take is to increase collective efficacy (Donohoo, Hattie & Eells, 2018). Therefore, I am advocating for a teacher evaluation system that evaluates teachers' ability to contribute to a learning organization, in place of an observational teacher evaluation (measurement) system. The current mechanism for evaluating teachers is limiting educational professionals' ability to leverage the power of teachers to work together in the school improvement process. Donohoo, Hattie and Eells (2018) released an updated list of the practices that have the most profound effect on student learning. The report found that the most impactful construct that teachers can engage to increase student learning is collective efficacy.
As it becomes more apparent that teaching is a complex technology exercised in rather fluid classroom contexts, it likewise becomes apparent that teachers should have the autonomy and authority to decide what is best to do in any given circumstance, rather than having to respond to bureaucratic policies and rules that assign a decontextualized uniformity and simplicity to teaching and learning.
(Sergiovanni and Starratt, 2007, p. 359)