Determining an approach to teacher evaluation and tenure
Design teams must decide the process the school leadership team will use to evaluate individual teachers’ performance. It’s important to keep in mind that, in some states, teams will have to educate themselves about newly implemented laws that specifically delineate some—if not all—areas for evaluation. In many cases, teams can also decide whether there will be tenure for teachers.
When making design decisions about evaluation and tenure at the school level, many teachers get uncomfortable. Often times, tenure and evaluation policies have been carefully negotiated and structured between districts and unions, for good reasons. Yet these policies are also designed assuming conventional management structures. When you are co-responsible and co-accountable for the success of the entire school with your colleagues, you might want to rethink your involvement in their hiring, evaluation, and dismissal. After all, your colleagues’ performance is now your business.
If your team can arrange for evaluation autonomy (which you will pursue from the state administration, district administration, or charter authorizer), then you and your colleagues can determine the definition of “good” teacher performance. This is key, as many teams believe that the evaluation processes they design are stronger and better able to bring forth improvement than the negotiated evaluations used in most districts. Teachers in both district and charter school settings often opt to encourage teacher improvement using 360-degree or peer evaluation. They also make coaching and mentoring a norm and encourage individual goal setting, with teams holding individuals accountable for meeting their goals.
Many teams keep tenure (along with negotiated salaries and benefits). However, teacher-powered schools with the highest levels of autonomy tend to eliminate that option. Teachers in these schools do not feel that their jobs will be threatened by outside management decisions, and they have a high degree of trust in their teams.