During the recent years teacher appraisal and evaluation

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During the recent years, teacher appraisal and evaluation has a significant importance in the educational system. The necessity and demand for accountability in education, places too much emphasis to the teacher evaluation and the development of new systems for teacher assessment in order to improve the quality of the teaching process and the teachers through self-development (Hammond et al. 1983; Middlewood and Cardo 2001; Glatthorn 2000). Through appraisal, the educational system should reach its targets while at the same time supporting the staff within it (Hancock and Settle 1990).

Through this essay I would like to develop an analytical understanding of teacher appraisal as a contributing element to teacher self-development and school improvement. Due to the fact that not too much research in educational practices in Cyprus has been undertaken, a great deal of literature is coming from international sources. However, based on some researches which took place in the Cypriot educational field, we conclude that in Cyprus is taking place only one part of inspection which aims to promote teachers in deputy headteachers and headteachers after some years of teaching experience and based on the inspectors grades after classroom observations. Also the lack of criteria for this evaluation is an additional complaint from the teachers who feel that the appraisal system is not democratic. My goals in this paper are to deal with an international literature about teacher appraisal and then find out whether it is an appraisal system in my country or not, how that system works and which are the weaknesses which need improvement. Secondly, I would like to suggest ways that teacher appraisal can be effectively used to promote teacher development.

To reach my goals, this essay has been divided into five parts. The first part deals with an international literature about teacher appraisal and its purposes. In the second part an exploration of the teacher appraisal practices in Cyprus is attempted. In the third part, some suggestions for improvement of the Cypriot educational system regarding teacher education are numerate. After that, this essay highlights the barriers that educators should face during their effort to apply these suggestions. Finally, we conclude that what is taken place in the Cypriot educational system is only one part of the inspection system which makes little sense without the rest of the inspection process. The main concern of this process is the promotion of the teachers instead of their self-development.

Theoretical framework and literature on teacher appraisal

Bollington et al. (1990:2) see appraisal 'as the culmination of a series of moves designed to improve the professional development of teachers and to identify more precisely their in-service training needs…and at the same time to provide reassurance to the general public that measures are in hand to improve the quality of education'. The two main purposes of appraisal are the contribution to the individual professional development and also the needs of accountability (Bartlett 1996; 2000; Kyriakides and Campbell 2003). The faculty assessment for school improvement could be either the evaluation of an entire school faculty or the assessment of a team of teachers in order to stimulate better quality of education for pupils (Glatthorn 2000; Heywood 1991). Teachers should be aware about what is required to be done, receive information, guidance and support when is needed and also they should get feedback about their progress and achievements (Middlewood and Cardo 2001). Furthermore, after appraisal, appropriate guidance, counselling and training programs should be offered to the teachers for their help and development (Heywood 1991). Consequently, appraisal and training are concepts inextricably related, like two sides of the same coin.

The importance of appraisal

Reflecting on Glatthorn (2000), teacher evaluation should take account of both individual and organizational needs, and main outcome should be the development of the teacher. The importance of appraising the performance of teachers is essential, and the reasons are numerous. According to Lunenburg and Ornstein (1991 cited in Scott 1998:169) on the one hand for schools it is easier to check the effectiveness of their personnel-selection procedures and for administrators to decide about compensation, promotions, transfers, or terminations. Additionally, this is a way where teachers could know how well they are performing and what needs they have in order to take the appropriate further education and training. Hancock and Settle (1990) argue that appraisal is needed in schools in order to be fair to all teaching staff rather than holding secret views and also to improve the quality of teaching and learning for all learners. It is interesting to note that the practical application of this process in many cases has positive effects on teachers who seem that recognise the importance of it. Based on Stiggins and Bridgeford's (1985) research, some teacher evaluation programs have shown that the increase of teacher participation in evaluation schemes over there are implemented is significant. Consequently, it seems that teachers realized the necessity of it and seek though this process to reach and accomplishing their personal goal.

Methods of appraisal

Appraisal is a developmental approach of teacher performance which is aimed at improving the teachers' practice. The methods of teacher appraisal include the interviews, the observation and the inspection. According to Bollinghton et al. (1990) the appraisal process starts with a preparation which is aim is to ensure that both appraiser and appraise are ready to go to the interview and be able to discuss of substance and avoid any irrelevant comments. This phase also include the classroom observation in order to move on to the interview where appraiser and appraise are going to talk about past performance and future plans. The appraiser should be objective, honest, realistic, and to encourage the appraise during their dialogue in order to be effective and helpful (Bollinghton et al. 1990). Wragg et al. (1996) say that based on some studies, teachers believe that classroom observation is lower in importance than an interview between them and the appraiser.

Inspection

Inspection is an additional assessment method which is aimed at evaluating the teachers' practice. Matthews and Smith (1995), argue that an effective inspection can also be a significant incentive for school improvement and development. Specifically, Matthews and Smith (1995:25) saw inspection as a process which is 'designed to evaluate the work of schools and report on their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the contributory factors… Their evaluation requires an emphasis on classroom practice as well as outcome measures, and it is the emphasis on teaching and learning, directly observing classes and other learning settings…'.Together these processes represent a systematic approach of a professional environment with an ultimate target the promotion of high educational outcomes through the appropriate education of the staff.

Different views

Although teacher appraisal is a process where ultimate purpose is to develop teachers and to improve schooling, educators are concerned about teacher evaluation programmes for many specific reasons. According to Bartlett (1998), if the emphasis is purely on the individual, this may be in conflict with the school targets. Furthermore Donald DuBois notes that "Teacher evaluation, historically, has been a mess. Teachers often feel naked and defenceless by the 'inspection' and 'report card' system. For principals, teacher evaluation process is a gut wrenching, time consuming duty" (Lewis, 1982: 55 cited in Stiggins and Bridgeford 1985:86). Scott (1998) says that some scholars argue that teaching is too complex process to be assessed, or that evaluation tools are too subjective to be generalised and applicable in any context. As a result, the most important disagreement of educators arises from their dissatisfaction with how teacher performance can be measured. The results of such measurement may affects 'teachers' job status, selection and promotion even dismissal' (Hammond et al. 1983:288). Lastly, Goddard and Emerson (1992) state 'an irreconcilable tension between an appraisal scheme based on accountability and also on professional development which, in their view, would never be fully trusted by teachers'. (Goddard and Emerson 1992 cited in Bartlet 2000: 25).

An exploration to the Cypriot school context

A large number of scholars have described the Cypriot educational system as highly centralized and conservative like the Greek system it is modelled on (Michaelidou and Pashiardis 2009; Kasoulides et al. 2006; Kyriakides et al. 2006; Pashiardis 2004; Kyriakides and Campbell 2003). Middlewood (2001a:184) describes teacher appraisal in the Greek educational system like it 'slips far down a government agenda because of more pressing education priorities, and because of an established culture of perceptions of teaching as a 'job for life' profession, inertia becomes a natural state'. This picture is absolutely familiar to the Cypriot reality. School principals do not have any authority over resources and personnel management, and there is no local education district. The main duties are laid down by the Ministry of Education which is responsible, to do the inspections, the supervisions to the schoolwork, the teachers' performance evaluations every two years and advise them on new methods of teaching (Oelmek 1999 cited in Varnava & Koutsoulis (n.d.:4). Consequently, the Inspectorate, the schools and their principals are obliged to obey without really questioning the system and its authority (Brauckmann and Pashiardis 2010).

According to the Manifest of School Reform (Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture, 2004) the assessment of the school work is limited only to teachers' evaluation. The form of this evaluation characterised by Varnava & Koutsoulis (n.d.:4) as 'traditional and counterproductive' because teachers' observation is mainly based on external inspectors who are sent by the Ministry of Education. Kyriakides and Campbell (2003) argue that the process of conducting teacher evaluation was developed by the Ministry of Education and Culture in 1976 and the teachers' Trade Union accepted it although policy makers (e.x inspectors) some years later identify some limitations. However, because of the resistance of the Trade Union no changes have been attempted since them.

Reflecting on Kyriakides and Campbell (2003) the appraisal system in Cypriot education involves firstly the principal of each school which has to evaluate teachers on a daily basis and complete a report form about their abilities regarding professional knowledge, teaching skills, classroom organisation and the teacher's behaviour in school. After that, the principal has to submit this form to the inspector who is going to evaluate the teachers through inspection. Inspectors visit the school and observe classroom teaching and complete another form. However, no feedback is received by the teachers as a consequence there is limited room for them to be improved after this process (Brauckmann and Pashiardis 2010). Then the inspectors give to teachers with more than 12 years experience some grades which will help them to apply for promotion, this happens every two years (Brauckmann and Pashiardis 2010; Kyriakides and Campbell 2003). Finally, the teachers with the highest grades are interviewed by the Educational Service Commission who is going to evaluate teacher's grades, the interview process and the length of their teaching experience in order to decide if they will promote them to the post of deputy headteacher or deputy headteachers to headteacher (Kyriakides et al. 2006).

Kikas (2000 cited in Varnava & Koutsoulis (n.d.:4) argues that neither teachers nor principals are satisfied based on the way in which evaluation is carried out in Cyprus. According to Zembylas and Papanastasiou (2006:233,242) the evaluation procedure, as it is describe above, it seems to the teachers to be influenced by 'lack of justice, fairness, corruption' and their complaints about the non merit evaluation are frequent. Based on their research with 52 teachers and administrators in 17 schools they concluded that one of the major sources of teacher dissatisfaction is the teacher evaluation and promotion prospects (Zembylas and Papanastasiou 2006). Furthermore, there are important lacks within the existing system which need to be taken in account by the Ministry in order teacher appraisal process be more effective. Some of the most important deficient are the lacking training to the inspectors who conduct the classroom observations and the limited time of the observations (less than 40 minutes once every two years). Furthermore, no account is taken for students' outcomes, for parents' or other stakeholders' satisfaction and finally headteachers' reports are frequent to be based by a standard structure and also some time headteachers discriminate their colleagues (Kyriakides et al. 2006). Additionally, the lack of specific criteria for measuring the teachers' effectiveness has a great impact on teachers' beliefs about fairness and meritocracy within the system (Kyriakides et al. 2006). Also based on the lack of standard criteria for evaluation the system fails to identify the most effective teachers and contribute to their promotion effectively and also to meet the needs of the educators effectively and contribute to their self development (Kyriakides et al. 2006; Kyriakides & Campbell (2003). Moreover, although it has been highlighted that the aims of evaluation should be the function of accountability and improvement, it is clear that Cypriot evaluation system does not addressed improvement and at the same time restricts to provide information for the teachers' promotion (Kyriakides and Campbell 2003).

Based on the previous deficient it is clear that the teacher appraisal process in Cypriot education is located exclusively in the inspectorate. However, 'the criteria upon which the inspectorate's judgements are based are neither explicit nor measurable' (Kyriakides et al. 2006:4). The majority of teachers disagree or strongly disagree that inspection improves their performance, teaching productivity or students' achievement (Varnava & Koutsoulis n.d:10). Consequently, it is obvious that teachers do not see the current system as a mechanism for improvement. Perhaps the most important factor is that teachers do not like to be observed, because they do not accept the role of inspection as it is functioning in schools. However, they agree that some forms of evaluation of teaching by inspectors are necessary if only for the purposes of promotion. Finally teachers seem to agree that there is a need for change to the existing evaluation system. Moreover, teachers state that after the inspector leaves they do not know what to change in their teaching methods in order to improve it and be more effective. This shows that firstly, inspectors do not discuss with the teachers about their performance after the inspection and secondly that shows that the relationships between teacher and inspector is not collegial, but a relationships between a superior and the subordinate, which makes teachers to feel uncomfortable (Varnava & Koutsoulis n.d).

Recommendations

Firstly it is very important that a policy which will inform staff about the purposes and the procedures of the appraisal process should be developed, and this should be written down. Following Pratt and Stenning (1989) each school should have more responsibility for the design and implementation of the policy, which should be based on the needs of the specific school in order to have any meaning for it.

Secondly the observation process for teacher appraisal should have a clear structure. Following Heywood's (1991:12) diagram an observation should consist of three stages. First it will be the preparation between observer and teacher. In this stage both sides should agree about the time, the place, the focus, the type of observation (participative or not) and the discussion of the lesson. After that the observation will take place and the observer should be well prepare about how to do the observation and finally the observer should give feedback to the teacher as soon as possible after the observation, and both observer and teacher should discuss the results. This process and communication between the two sides will help the teacher to feel less stressed and also that will enhance their relationship by overcoming the 'superior-subordinate' type of relationships.

Fig.1 Classroom observation appears to work best if it is set in a cycle of (Heywood's (1991:12) :

Campbell et al. (2004) suggest an additional kind of appraisal. Peer appraisal would be an ideal way for teachers to share views and teaching methods by observing each other in order to facilitate the development of individual effective teaching and plans for future development (Fisher 1994). Also with this method they will enhance the working relations between teachers. Furthermore teachers will not feel uncomfortable or stressed, because of the fear of the outside observer (Marshall, 1998). Thus, teachers and administrators should collaborate over the procedures of evaluation in order to diagnose teachers' skills, or on the other hand teachers' weaknesses for support and training (Stiggins and Bridgeford 1985). According to Campbell et al. (2004) this different approach of appraisal leads to different outcomes, but is still a useful target-setting activity. Reflecting on Varnava & Koutsoulis (n.d:18) results, teachers prefer the most approachable person from the school but, they also can understand that coordination with outside experts is very important.

As Scott (1998:173) correctly notes, 'Feedback provided should be immediate and constructive'. Consequently, it will be good practice if teacher and appraiser discuss and analyse the data after the inspection. Telling a person what to do and how to do seems controlling and that is the main reason why evaluation is so often perceived as negative experiences (Marshall 1998). After any appraisal method appraiser and appraise should have a meeting where not only weaknesses but also strengths of the teacher and his/her teaching methods should be mentioned. Also, appraisers should suggest to the teacher some assistance in order to help the teacher to be improved and for its career satisfaction (Scott 1998; Peterson 1987). Furthermore thought this discussion teachers should get what they really want which are the accurate information based on classroom needs, opportunity to acquire new learning methods, and collegial support when changes for improvement are needed (Stiggins and Bridgeford 1985).

Based on the Varnava & Koutsoulis' (n.d) research, it is interesting to note the fact that in Cyprus the majority of teachers believe that appraisers in the Cypriot educational system are not very aware of their needs. This confession should alert the Ministry of Education in order to provide them with the appropriate training programs. Additionally, the lack of evaluation criteria for a comprehensive teacher evaluation system is a major problem according to Kyriakides et al. (2006). In that case they suggest that it would be beneficial if teachers participate in this kind of process in order to generate such criteria. That will make them to accept these criteria as a means for measuring their professional effectiveness. Following Kyriakides et al. (2006) research 42 criteria of teacher evaluation where classified. The most appropriate criteria for conducting evaluation according to 237 teachers was the 'working process model' and the least appropriate the criteria that emerged from the 'School constituencies satisfaction' model and the 'Accountability' model (Kyriakides et al. 2006:2).

Lastly it is necessary for teachers to realise that self-evaluation is useful, as it can enhance critical thinking (Middlewood 2001b; Scott 1998; MacBeath 1999). Teachers' self-evaluation will also enhance teacher autonomy, which is necessary because when the inspector leaves they are the main responsible for the continuing improvement of instruction in their classrooms (Wilcox et al. 1998). Educators should be encouraged to recognize the importance of self-appraisal of their work and continue their efforts because as MacBeath (1999) noted, self-evaluation is an important stepping stone to the effectiveness and improvement. Any change or improvement should begin from the change of peoples' assumptions and beliefs, or in other words of the culture of the organisation (Schein 1985).

Barriers within the system

In order to apply these recommendations to the Cypriot Educational system educators and policymakers should take into account the following elements. Firstly Kyriakides and Campbell (2003) mention that appraisal policies in countries where accountability and centralisation are heavily imposed by the government, less flexibility is given to the local authorities. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education is also responsible for the educational policy making as a result, no specific elements are determined in this policy based on the needs of each school (Kyriakides and Campbell 2003). Specifically, the existing policy in the Cypriot education comes mainly from England and Greece (Kyriakides and Campbell 2003), consequently there is little authenticity and focus on the Cypriot school needs.

Additional to that point, the fact that principals have little authority over personnel causes an unstable climate in schools because teachers and principals are moved from one school to other without any choice (Kyriakides and Campbell 2003; Matsaggouras 1999 cited in Varnava & Koutsoulis n.d:18). As a result educators do not feel closely identified with their school, because they do not know if they will stay in the same school for more years or they will go to another school the next year.

Furthermore, one of the problems of high school teachers in Cyprus is that they do not have the opportunities to improve their teaching skills (Angelides, 2002). One reason is the fact that principals cannot provide teachers with professional help because their main role is administrative and not professional (Kyriakides, 1997 cited in Varnava & Koutsoulis n.d.:21). Also at the same time the teachers' union demands that inspectors should be advisers and not only evaluators (Varnava & Koutsoulis).

Conclusion

The information about the Cypriot educational system presented here shows the opinions of the teachers about the present system of teacher appraisal which needs to be improved in order to reach teacher self development effectively. Many teachers believe that they do not have a lot to gain from the evaluation process as it is and at the same time they suffer a lot from stress (Varnava & Koutsoulis n.d.). What Varnava & Koutsoulis (n.d.:5-6) correctly point out both persons and factors should have a part in the evaluation process of educational work. With persons he means every individual who is involved in it (teachers, principals, school counsellors, Ministry of Education), and factors are the elements which influence the learning process such as the material and technical infrastructure, the curriculum, teaching methods and so on. Teachers are much more likely to improve their practices if they are informed with feedback and effective discussion and communication about their work and performance than if they just see a number after their appraisal without any explanation (McLaughlin 1986 cited in Bollington et al. 1990).

Concluding, reflecting the teacher appraisal system in Cypriot education it is clearly that this system is poorly based on the fact that only one part of it is applied and this is not even meritocratic. Inspection is the only evaluation process which is taking place in teacher appraisal and its main purpose is the promotion of the educators, something that happens with lacking criteria and fairness.

According to the OELMEK (1998 cited in Varnava & Koutsoulis (n.d.:3), which is the High school Teachers' Union in Cyprus, the main purpose of teacher evaluation is to control the quality of the educational resources, in particular, to control the teaching quality by removing weak or poor teachers from the system while rewarding the outstanding practitioners. It is sad though that they seem to suggest the removal of the weak teachers instead of the suggestions of any training program and workshops. Teacher evaluation should be the key to understanding effective teacher practices, rewarding excellent performance, and improving training programs for serving teachers (Peterson 1987).

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