Teacher appraisal has two purposes:

  • improvement - appraisal supports personal development and school capability to meet student outcome goals
  • professional accountability - appraisal provides assurances to the wider community that teaching standards are rigorously applied.

Twenty percent of schools in the sample had high quality appraisal systems that contributed to both of these purposes. Many schools have all the mandated components of an appraisal system but haven’t fully understood how to put appraisal within the wider self-review framework, in a way that supports targeted improvements for students’ achievement and outcomes.

Schools need a model and support to develop a coherent self-review system in which appraisal is a tool for both improvement and accountability. Instead of focusing on one aspect of self review at a time, such as setting charter targets, an overall approach is needed. All school self‑review components should link together and be targeted to raise achievement and improve outcomes for students.

The important role of school leaders

The role of the school leader is critical in developing an improvement-focused culture, and providing the organisational support and guidance to embed appraisal into robust self-review processes that bring about necessary changes for students.

Leaders in schools with high quality appraisal systems demonstrated a commitment to appraisal, and an expectation that teachers can make a difference and all students can be successful. They modelled these expectations whenever they could and used collaborative structures to support teachers to be accountable for the impact of their practices on students. In large schools, successful leaders had developed particular management structures to help all teachers have a direct line of sight from their practice to student targets.

Conversely, a lack of leadership knowledge about self review, appraisal, curriculum and assessment was linked to appraisal systems identified as having a limited impact on teacher practice and student outcomes. Although many large schools had pockets of effective practice the appraisal processes were not consistently rigorous across the whole school.

What can coherence look like in a school?

Coherent self-review is transparent in using high quality data as evidence in decision-making. Each self-review component uses a range of data in different ways to identify students’ and teachers’ strengths, needs and next steps in particular contexts.

A key process for each self-review component is the communication of action plans and impact statements to stakeholders. Sets of agreed standards of performance underpin all self review as they describe the expectations for the quality of performance. For students, some standards are expressed formally in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) standards and National Standards for Years 1-8 students’ achievement in literacy and mathematics. Expectations of quality are described in the curriculum documents and assessment tools. For teachers there are the two sets of teaching standards, RTC and professional standards. The Best Evidence Synthesis outline the quality dimensions for what works and why. Schools can use the expectations and dimensions to build their understanding of the standards for students and teachers.

Appraisal can help link the school planning and reporting processes and teachers’ evaluation or reflections to the actual classrooms and inform the external ERO review in a coherent self-review system.

Table 2 identifies the aspects of appraisal that could deliberately link self‑review components together.

Table 2: Deliberately aligning teacher appraisal with other school self-review components and practices

Appraisal aspects

Examples of other school self-review components, and the development of subsequent plans and reports

Examples of standards and expectations available system-wide

Identify improvement goals for teachers (practice and learning) that are directly related to school goals and targets, and system-wide standards

Report to the board of trustees school-wide PLD needs to assist them to make resourcing decisions

Develop and use agreed indicators of success based on evidence of ‘what works’ (short and long term)

Identify learning steps and tasks to reach these goals

Design deliberate learning activities and access and provide relevant PLD and professional support

Seek and provide evidence-informed feedback from people with expertise to support ongoing development (mentoring and monitoring)

Evaluate progress towards and outcomes of reaching goals

Refocus priorities and identify the next steps for improvement

Report to principal both the contribution of appraisal to improving individual practices, school goals and to meeting teaching standards

Report successes and issues identified through appraisal to the board of trustees and how well board expectations for appraisal have been met

Classroom self review

Teaching as Inquiry

Classroom assessment for and of learning information

Reports to parents

Teacher self review (individual and school-wide)

Aggregated and disaggregated teacher practice data

School PLD plan

School inquiry and knowledge building for improved student outcomes

Department and syndicate reports

School self review (strategic, regular and emerging)

School charter and goals

Aggregated and disaggregated school assessment data including achievement and wellbeing

Annual targets

Ongoing reporting to the board of trustees

Annual report and variation statements for boards and the Ministry

External review

ERO external review – complementary to school self review

School ERO report

NZ Curriculum

School curriculum

Classroom curriculum

Assessment tools that link to curriculum

Progressions of learning

National Standards

NCEA standards

Registered Teacher Criteria

Professional Standards

Best Evidence Synthesis describing what works and why. For example, BES / Hei Kete Raukura A3 Overview

High quality appraisal maintains a fine balance between the accountability requirements and the improvement focus. The actual practice depends on the school culture and on leadership knowledge and expertise to drive for professional accountability rather than technical compliance.