Staff appraisal system: ObjectivesWe begin by considering objectives for implementing a staff appraisal system. The object...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a...
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The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a staff appraisal system

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The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a staff appraisal system

  1. 1. Staff appraisal system: ObjectivesWe begin by considering objectives for implementing a staff appraisal system. The objectives can be: 1 To provide information that could help the stakeholders of the school have a better understanding of how and to what extend the school objectives are being accomplished (audit aspect);2 To provide information that could help stakeholders who are responsible for the running of the school to reflect and improve on the effectiveness of their effort and expertise (developmental aspect);3 To provide information that could help the school management and staff to design and implement more effective organization development strategies (organization development aspect);4 To provide information that could help the school management and staff plan career paths for staff members that are compatible with organizational development (resource deployment aspect);5 To provide information that could form a basis for satisfying the SBM accountability requirements of the Government (accountability aspect).It is quite clear that some of the objectives apply to goals of having a self-evaluation system. This is natural because staff appraisal system should be a component of a school self-evaluation mechanism. On the other hand, an appraisal system seeks to generate information from staff members. It tries to facilitate staff members' professional development, help school develop a profile of expertise in various roles and satisfying accountability requirements.<br />A proposed design for a well-established schoolWe begin by outlining the principles that we have to adhere to in designing an appraisal system. These are:1 Different approaches would be needed for different objectives. To be more specific, procedures for promotion would call for the use of summative evaluation. On the other hand, an experienced teacher's developmental needs would call for the use of formative evaluation. As for a new teacher who is under probation, summative procedure for probation consideration and formative evaluation for his/her development might both be needed (and independently implemented).2 The set of standards and norms for various evaluative procedures has to be developed. Minimum performance standards like punctuality, marking of student works etc. would have to be clearly laid down for summative purposes. For developmental needs, the use of multiple means to illicit indicators for appraiser/appraisee interaction and improvement might be needed. This is for the evolution of professional norm in the process of formative evaluation.3 To ensure the credibility of the appraisal system, participation and ownership of staff members should be maximized. Standards and norms could only be established and adhere to when stakeholders participate in their formation.4 The appraisal system needs authority. Standards and norms are one source. Another source is naturally the opinion of the principal and members of the mid-management. However, decisions by man are not free from skepticism and different interpretations. Hence, the participation of different stakeholders in the whole process would need to be maximized as far as possible. For high-stake decisions, appeal mechanism and scrutiny from other independent sources should be built-in features. For low-stake procedures such as development of teaching expertise, the presence of role models, trust and professional culture are critical factors.5 The establishment of the appraisal system is also an evolutionary process. Adequate time should be given for its design and implementation. Each component should be established with adequate stakeholder participation, trial, evaluation and shared acceptance. The school's governing body should be consulted in each stage. The shared vision and mission of the school should be the yardstick for the establishment of standards and procedures.6 The costs and benefits of the system designed should be weighted at each stage. Any new system would have impact on an organization. Good practices and positive elements of school culture should be preserved or enhanced when the appraisal system is in place. For example, the pursuit of quality should be amplified in the process. On the other hand, negative elements of culture should not be encouraged. An example is the evasion of responsibility through strategic bargaining and concealment of personal weakness. There should be smaller and smaller rooms for maneuvering as the system develops.7 The appraisal system is an integral part of the school's self-evaluative system. It provides information on how different stakeholders are performing and provides a mechanism for improvement. The self-evaluation system of the school would address the question on how effective the school as a whole is achieving its societal role. At times, even the vision and mission of the school would be under examination.<br />Some pre-requisites for design:The following outline the key elements for consideration before a proposal for appraisal system design to be an agenda of the school:1 Vision, mission and school development plans have to be established and shared among stakeholders. These are essential for the development of performance standards and contexts for evaluation of school processes. Ends-means analysis and school effectiveness are evaluated in a dynamic process. Development plans are expected to change over time as information from evaluation system provides more grounds for the school to improve its trajectory of development.2 If (1) above is incomplete, shared construction of vision, mission, strategies, area of concerns and plans should then be tackled and crystallized in the early stage of the development of the appraisal system.3 Core values and philosophy of the school and management would have to be clarified. Practices and procedures that exists would shed lights on the manifestations of these values. For example, how far would the management go (and in which domain) in involving different stakeholders in the design and implementation of the appraisal system is a tough question. Another difficult question is on the degree of trust that would be built into the system so that staff members would not be alienated. It is only through a genuine sense of mutual respect and trust that the system would have a minimal chance of being abused. The presence of a shared quality culture and a strong sense of professionalism would provide a self-sustaining platform for good appraisal practices to emerge.4 To ensure credibility, full support from school governance at every stage is a must. This implies clear roles and responsibilities for different personnel at the senior management level. Responsibility for high-stake decision like disciplining staff members should be vested in proper authority. As for low-stake decisions and for developmental processes, the role of different professionals should be to help construct a frame for improvement for staff members and make sure that these trials can go through.5 Expertise in design and use of appraisal instruments would need development. Hence, ample time should be allowed for. However, if there is time frame for some appraisal elements, a balance between task accomplishment and quality of information elicited has to be struck. Sometimes, omission is better than introducing some elements that would increase the skepticism of staff members.The ProposalThe appraisal system consists of fix separate components (see table 1).Table 1<br /> Nature TargetFocusAppraiser(s)RemarksA Annual standard appraisal(summative)AllProfessional competence-core competence, professionalism(lesson observation, peer etc.)Principal and his appointees;peers Independent from development trackBProbation(summative); New recruitsA) Basic competence (lesson observation; quality of work; student feedback; peer review etc.)B) professional orientation (observation; records; peer review; student comments etc.)Senior colleagues;Peers;PrincipalDevelopment track could be concurrently held;Incompetence etc. should be dealt with as early as possibleCPromotion/Change in responsibility(summative)Veteran(on principal recommendation or by application)A) professional excellence (conferencing; lesson observation; quality of work; student feedback; peer review etc.)B) compatibility with school development(conferencing; acting appointments; peer review etc.)School board;Principal;PeerProfiling of school needs + staff members' profiles of strengths and weaknesses are neededDDevelopment(formative)All staff membersA) professional growth- teaching(needs identification -development plans -implementation; conferencing; peer review etc.)B) professional growth- functional(conferencing; peer review etc.)Senior colleagues;PeersEstablishing standards and norms first followed by need identification; choice of developmental subsets of skills and functions through conferencing etc.EMaintenance(formative)VeteranImproving professional practice(student data; peer review)Principal;PeersShort exercise between other major appraisal eventsFBaseline(summative and formative)All, when initially joining the appraisal systemProviding baseline data for subsequent appraisal events(various)various <br />These six components are best classified in terms of their purposes. For annual appraisal, probation, promotion and redeployment decisions (A, B and C), summative approach would be used. As for D, this is for development purpose and should become the main thrust of appraisal efforts for the school in the long run. E is for veteran staff members who have shown a very consistent pattern and quality of performance such that only very short and low-cost appraisal would be employed for 2 to 5 years before A, B, C or D applies. F is to establish a profile of strengths, developmental needs, personal preferences and other relevant attributes for each staff members when the appraisal system is first in place. F would serve as a basis for staff development and appraisal that follows. A schematic diagram for the appraisal systems proposed is as follows:<br />Diagram 1Diagram 1 above depicts the major conception involved. The flow is described below. A dual track approach is adopted. Information from the two tracks would be segregated. Data from developmental track would be for development purposes and would not be used for monitoring purposes. Only with appraisee's consent and for his/her career growth would summative reports be accessible for career advancement purposes. Different personnel should be used to administer the two tracks. If overlapping of roles is unavoidable, this can only be done at the data generation level and not at the top level in which judgments are made and summative reports complied.The accountability track is the prerogatives of the principal and the school board. Hence clear guidelines and standards should be laid down. The set of competencies and professional orientation appraised should be minimal but essential. The procedure designed should be seen as fair and impartial to all appraisees. Appraisees should be given the right to appeal or giving disagreement or rationale for some issues raised in the report. In the event of major decision to which the appraisee does not accept, an impartial mechanism should be present.As for the development track, forming of professional nuclei to start systemize expertise development should be done after (F) is finished. Subject panels at different levels are good starting niches. After members get to know more about their colleagues through joint lesson design, lesson observation and conferencing, individual growth needs (say focus on questioning techniques for teacher A and on cooperative learning designs for teacher B in the same team) could be identified and chosen. Design of action plans then follows with built in self-evaluative mechanisms. After implementation and evaluation, improvements to action plans are made and the development cycle repeats. On agreed time frame, the nucleus group should prepare a summative report when certain milestone of the development cycle is reached. These reports would be the consolidated experiences of the school. In the span of 3 to 6 years, these consolidated good practices should bring about visible change in quality of school effects and teacher professionalism. There should also be a mechanism for these experiences to be reviewed and disseminated. The committee responsible for development appraisal should have this in their terms of reference.To address the accountability objective, minimum professional competence and orientation is monitored through summative approaches. On joining the appraisal system, an appraisee is first evalued using the (F) component. General teaching competence is inferred from lesson observation, evaluation of examination and test papers and marking, quality of assignment and marking and similar indicators. This is appraised by senior teachers with appropriate expertise. Systematic collection and use of student data like pattern of academic results, students' general satisfaction towards the school, their perception of teachers or some of the key student attributes such as study habit could provide helpful information for teachers participating in the developmental exercise. However, caution should be employed because direct evaluation of teachers by their pupils would not be free from academic challenges at this juncture.Fulfillment of professional expectation is monitored by records of attendance, punctuality and similar measures. Report(s) from appraisee's senior colleague(s) on issues like absence of unethical practices, attitude towards students and commitment to school mission would form part of a summative report. If there is no key domain in which the appraisee demonstrated inadequacies beyond minimum acceptable level for 2 or 3 consecutive years, this part of the accountability appraisal exercise would be scaled down to the annual short version, {(A) component}.For veteran teachers showing unblemished records, (A) could be suspended after satisfactorily completion of (F). (E) component could be used to provide update information to the veteran about his professional practice. (E) might include data on his students' feedback on some issues related to the veteran or hard-data on students' growth like academic scores. The principal and some chosen colleagues might give the veteran one annual comment in the form of a very short report for the veteran's reference.The following diagram illustrate the sequence and relationship on the use of the components:Diagram 2The componentsThe design of various procedures, instruments and personnel involved should be school-based. Efforts should be made so that stringent adherence to shared vision/mission and explicitly laid down standards and guidelines can be approached. These standards should reflect the core values of the school. They should bring out the professional expectations that the school wishes to communicate to its staff. However, to achieve the above, slow-approach with maximum staff involvement should be tried. The following is some suggestions for elements in components.A Annual performance appraisal<br />AppraiseeAppraiser PrinciplesTools/procedureExample areasAll except those taking (E)Principal; with assistance from his delegatesMinimum competence level;No unethical practice- general record- special records- lesson observation(senior member in panel)- quality of work (senior member in panel)- student data [need more formulation]- attendance, late, sick-leave- complain reports, warning letters- subject expertise, pedagogical expertise, class management and student rapport- examination papers, assignments, quality of marking- adverse incidences; data on academic performance<br />This component is for accountability. The principal should be the one who is responsible. However, minimum competence and absence of unethical practices are the focuses. It is the failure in either one of these two areas that drastic measures (such as disciplinary proceedings) could then be initiated. Staff members should have a low incentive to behave strategically because in general few teachers would be caught in this scenario. On the other hand, it would also be very costly to behave strategically if a teacher (not to his/her true self or ability) tries to out-perform others in various domains above so that a consistent pattern could be seen. This design aims at containing the resources spent on annual appraisal so that wastage as a result of strategic and opportunistic behaviour would not be encouraged. B Appraisal for staff members under probation<br />AppraiseeAppraiser PrinciplesTools/procedureExample areasNew recruitsPrincipal;with assistance from his delegates;Appeals allowed with school board appointees making the decisionMinimum competence level;Professional orientation;No unethical practice;Commitment to school vision;Absence of serious mismatch with school developmental needs- general record- special records- lesson observation (senior member in panel)- quality of work (senior member in panel)- student data [need more formulation]- peer review: a sample of colleagues will be invited to give responses on some core attributes- attendance, late, sick-leave- compliant reports, warning letters- subject expertise, pedagogical expertise, class management and student rapport- examination papers, assignments, markings- adverse incidences; data on student academic performance- commitment, consistency of output, willingness to cooperate, potential for professional growth etc.<br />Passing the probation bar is at times a high-stake position to the appraisee. Hence, the presence of an appeal mechanism should be considered. Peer review should be included as a means to obtain a better coverage of the appraisee's professional orientations and relevant attributes. This would also be a way to let staff members participate. Staff ownership to the system can be strengthened. Fairness can be partly guaranteed.C Promotion/Change in responsibilities<br />AppraiseeAppraiser PrinciplesTools/procedureExample areasAll, on recom-mendation or applicationPrincipal; with assistance from his delegates;High level of expertise;Redeployment for school development;Career development- Indicatiors of professional expertise- better or more compatible responsibility deployment after conferencing- peer review- consistency in high level of performance; commitment- school profiling<br />This component is to help a school to locate, develop and match personnel strengthens to school developmental needs. The identification of school developmental needs and hence school profiling have to be done first.D Developmental <br />AppraiseeAppraiser PrinciplesTools/procedureExample areasAllPeers through professional nucleiDevelopment of expertise through collaboration- baseline data on competence- identification of priority areas for development- action plan- evaluation- teaching and learning, functional duties etc.<br />This should be the most important element for school development. This component needs another in-depth exploration. I reserve the discussion in another article.E Maintenance<br />AppraiseeAppraiser PrinciplesTools/procedureExample areasVeterans with high level of performancePrincipal;PeersInform the appraisee on critical/interesting aspects about his/her performance;updating- timely observation/comments that help the veteran to reflect- off-trend behavior of his/her students<br />This component is to free resources from more elaborated appraisal routines. The presence of veteran teachers who have strong reputation and proven track record is a general feature of schools in Hong Kong. Simple maintenance appraisal would be adequate as long as there exist a standard appraisal in say, 5 years time. F Baseline data generation<br />AppraiseeAppraiser PrinciplesTools/procedureExample areasAllAllStarting point and anchor for development- various <br />This is the difficult part which may end up to be very costly and yet ineffective. If starting up criteria are not thoroughly discussed and shared among staff members, the whole appraisal system might be on the wrong track. The wisdom of the principal and his team in setting up the criteria would be the key. Conclusion<br />The above discussion focuses on two main ideas. One is the importance of shared school vision/mission and the standards and norms generated. The other is that any appraisal system is not free from human limitations. The separation of developmental and accountability track is to reduce strategic behaviour among staff members. Hence productive efforts would be channelled to development of expertise. The system is also able to have a monitoring bottom line. However, one must be reminded of the importance of school-based development. Different context would require different developmental tracks for an appraisal system. The ownership, trust and goodwill of staff members must be able to cultivated during the design and implementation of the appraisal system by involving them at all stages. On the other hand, clear and non-conflicting roles for different personnel should be observed. For example, a principal should hold pivotal role in making unbiased judgement, communicating expectations and make sure that fairness reign and arbitrariness minimal. He/she must be able to distant himself/herself from cases that may involve conflicts of interest. The principal has to be sensitive on practices that may be incompatible to the school vision and education principles. For panel heads, they should lead the professional development of their teams. A learning culture should be encouraged through their leading by example. Finally, an appraisal system should itself have a built-in evaluative mechanism so that its effectiveness in achieving its objectives is subject to scrutiny so that it can also evolve and improve. The following is a discussion on some key factors for a school to consider when setting up or initiating improvements to a staff appraisal system. The first question to ask is whether the school has a systematic and effective self-evaluation system in operation. The presence of an effective self-evaluation system implies that a satisfactory staff appraisal system is in place. The question for the school would be on improvements to the arrangements. However, in the present setting, many schools in Hong Kong have only self-evaluation measures to some key school functions and endeavors. Fragmented practices and incompatible principles would be common in many schools. A coherent, systematic, effective and shared self-evaluation system is most likely to be absent in these schools. Ineffective self-evaluation system would not help school stakeholders to strive towards their school vision/mission. In these schools, the effectiveness of staff appraisal systems would be constrained. The use of information, which is a necessary condition for any interpretive exercise on the performance of a staff member, would not be easily free from bias or errors. The self-evaluation system in these schools simply cannot generate adequate quality information. Yet the paradox is that schools in Hong Kong have to have a staff appraisal system in place in these few years, irrespective of the state of the self-evaluation system. Hence this leads to our second question: To what extend would the development of a staff appraisal system help the development of the self-evaluation system? Or alternatively, would the appraisal system instill elements in the self-evaluation system that would be counter-productive to the healthy development of the school concerned? We will try to explore the issues through simulating a design process for an established school.<br />

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