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.


Designing teacher evaluation and tenure policies

Who Should Evaluate Teachers

Article. Integrating peer review systems into teacher evaluations can lead to improved teacher effectiveness, academic achievement, and collaboration among colleagues.

Evaluation: Discussion Starters for Creating a Teacher-Powered School

Discussion Starters. Teams starting or improving a teacher-powered school should use this resource to explore how to design an evaluation process that considers teachers' instructional practice as well as their other abilities. This discussion starter also includes tips for training teachers to conduct evaluations.

Teacher evaluation and tenure policies in existing teacher-powered schools

Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots, Chapter 10

Book. In this chapter, learn more about the evaluation policies for teacher improvement.

Using Data to Learn: From Multiple Measures to Systems of Support

Report. Jarod Kawasaki and Soo Jin Choi document how the teacher-powered UCLA Community School created its own Professional Learning Action Team, in part to develop a multiple measures teacher evaluation system that would be more rigorous and comprehensive. Kawasaki and Choi also situate the story in a broader research context.

Sample evaluation processes and rubrics from numerous teacher-powered schools

EdVisions Off Campus (Henderson, MN): Trusting Teachers with School Success, Chapter 10 (pp. 134-137)

Book. Learn how evaluation works at EdVisions Off Campus, a teacher-powered school.

EdVisions Off Campus (Henderson, MN): Peer Evaluation Rubric

Rubric. What does a peer-to-peer evaluation rubric look like in a teacher-powered school? In this example from EdVisions Off Campus, peers rate peers in areas such as content knowledge, evaluation skills, ability to assist students in developing project proposals, reflective practice, ability to advise and coach students, and organization.

Mathematics and Science Leadership Academy (Denver, CO): Peer Evaluation Process (pp. 6-9)

Procedural document. MSLA teachers designed a peer evaluation process to provide feedback for instructional improvement 3-4 times per year.

High School in the Community (New Haven, CT): New Haven Public Schools, Teacher Evaluation and Development System

Website. In October 2009, New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) and the New Haven Federation of Teachers (NHFT) signed a teachers' contract that established a new NHPS teacher evaluation and development system (TEVAL). The agreement also gave the district new flexibility to make significant changes in staffing and structure at low-performing schools. This collection of NHPS documents includes descriptions of its processes as well as rubrics.The teacher team at High School in the Community Academy for Law and Social Justice, a teacher-powered school, has used its informal teacher autonomy to customize the process for its school and to allow peer groups to complete the evaluation ratings themselves.

Mission Hill K-8 School (Jamaica Plain, MA): Peer Evaluation Process

Procedural document. A number of teacher-powered schools choose to do peer evaluation in addition to what is required by their collective bargaining agreements. This Trusting Teachers excerpt describes how it works at Mission Hill K-8, and the team's procedures and rubric provide insight about the knowledge, skills, and dispositions the team believes are important to develop.

Phoenix High School (Kennewick, WA): Peer Review Rubric

Rubric. This rubric developed by Phoenix High School teachers helps the teacher team conduct peer-to-peer evaluations for the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they've decided are important for team members to possess to ensure school success.

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