Nolan & Hoover Understanding the Components of a Comprehensive Teacher Supervision and Evaluation System

Nolan, J., & Hoover, L. A. (2005). Teacher supervision and evaluation: Theory into practice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Chapter 2: Understanding the Components of a Comprehensive Teacher Supervision and Evaluation System

Teacher Supervision and Evaluation: Historical Roots
•    In the 19th Century, supervisors were more like inspectors. Their job was more of evaluation than supervision in that their task was to eliminate unsatisfactory teachers.
•    In the early 20th Century, there was great emphasis on efficiency and scientific quantification as a valid means of evaluation. Consequently the era brought about an abundance of rating scales as evaluative mechanisms. This obsession with scientific quantification was the catalyst behind evaluation.
•    The growth of Progressivism brought the beginnings of a shift in mindset from supervisor as evaluator to supervisor as supervisor.
•    "The Progressive era, with its philosophy of inquiry, democratic processes, and scientific investigation, led to a supervisory process that was seen as helpful, improvement oriented, and collaborative (p. 23)."
•    "Progressive supervision, while downplaying teacher evaluation, emphasized collaboration, group processes, inquiry, and experimentation (p. 23)."
•    "...teachers were seen as part of the solution rather than as the problem (p. 23)."
•    "...we find a scholarly literature that advocates collegial improvement and practitioners who find themselves unable to accept the collegial role owing to the hierarchical superiority that is implied - indeed necessitated - by the role of teacher evaluator (p. 25)."
•    The end of the 20th Century saw great tension between the desire to set professional goals with teachers, functioning in collegial roles and acting as true supervisors, and the shackles of the bureaucratic functions of teacher evaluation.

Teacher Supervision and Evaluation: Separate, Essential, Complementary Functions
•    Scholars and practitioners alike are confused by the terms supervision and evaluation. Discrepancies in definitions and practices feed this confusion. In addition, the tensions fet in the dual role of supervisor and evaluator also contribute to the confusion because these double headed monsters (my language) either have trouble making the distinction or do not understand the distinction themselves and are, therefore, perceived as one in the same.
•    The question then becomes - what does an effective practitioner of both supervision and evaluation look like?
•    DEFINITION: "'Teacher evaluation' is an organizational function designed to make comprehensive judgments concerning teacher performance and competence for the purposes of personnel decisions such as tenure and continuing employment...the process as a whole is aimed primarily at making a summative judgment about the quality of the teacher's performance in carrying out instructional duties and other responsibilities...(it) is a state-mandated function carried out only by persons properly certificated by the state (p. 26)."
•    DEFINITION - "'Teacher supervision' is an organizational function concerned with promoting teacher growth, which in turn leads to improvement in teaching performance and greater student learning...The function can be carried out by multiple individuals who find themselves in multiple roles within the school system (p. 26)."
•    Supervision and evaluation differ on seven dimensions:
    o    Basic purpose
                Evaluation                                  Supervision
                Imposed                                    Teacher selected topics based on interest
                Limited impact                            Promotes individual growth
                Measured against a standard -    Meets the individual teacher as his/her level
                   a minimal level of competence     as a starting point and grows from there
                Practices of tenured teachers       Can be very motivating
                   cannot be forced to changed   
                Makes judgments                        Nonjudgmental

    o    Rationale for existence
                Evaluation                                    Supervision
                Has legal and bureaucratic            "It is a professional, community-building activity
                   implications - these governing        that recognizes that teachers are motivated
                   bodies have the moral obligation     by internal drives such as a desire
                   to ensure that students are not        to improve their professional competence
                   harmed under the care of a             and a desire to maximize
                   teacher.                                        student learning (p. 29)."

    o    Scope
                    Evaluation                                    Supervision
                    Broad focus looking at painting        Narrow focus looking at a teacher-selected,
                        a global picture and passing            particular aspect where growth is the
                        judgment on competence                goal   

    o    Inherent nature of the relationship between teacher and administrator
                    Evaluation                                    Supervision
                    Neutral stance                                On the teacher's side
                    Dis-empowering                              Empowering
                    Unequal power                                Equal power/shared power
                    Separate, unequal roles                   Blended roles
                    Could lead to mistrust and a            Shared leadership, responsibility,
                        sense of wariness                         trust, and mutual vulnerability

o    Focus of data collection procedures
                    Evaluation                                    Supervision
                    Derived from criteria and                Derived from the individual teacher
                    External judgments in that the        Internal judgments in that the individual
                        evaluator makes the judgment        teacher looks at the data presented
                        about the teaching                          and passes judgment
                    Data is universal and standard        Data is individualized and differentiated

o    Whose professional expertise counts
                    Evaluation                                    Supervision
                    Resident expert                            Both parties bring expertise to the table
                    Must make a summative               Is not required to make a
                        judgment at some point                 summative judgment

o    Teacher's perspective on the overall process
                    Evaluation                                    Supervision
                    Environment of fear - fear of            Positive environment based on
                        negative judgments                         trust and absent of external judgments
                    Does not promote risk taking and      Promotes risk taking and             
                        experimentation                              experimentation 
                    Dog-an- pony show and                    New, untried lessons
                        "showcase" lessons   
                    Fear of failure environment                Failure as opportunity environment

•    Essentially, but Fundamentally Different
    o    Both evaluation and supervision are necessary. Evaluation is needed to protect children and allow competent teachers to remain members of the professional education community. Whereas supervision is needed to promote the expectation of eternal growth and help teachers reach individual expectations.
    o    It is possible for one person to wear both hats, but that person's actions must clearly communicate the distinction between the two. Otherwise, the teacher will maintain that the supervisor is always the evaluator, and the relationship of trust and collegiality will be broken down.

Criteria for High-Quality Supervision and Evaluation Systems
•    The Processes for Judging Competence (Evaluation) are Clearly Differentiated from Processes for Promoting Growth (Supervision)
o    Two Models:
                                 Model 1                                  Model 2
Evaluators                Separate, different people          Same person (Administrator)
Supervisor                Peers                                       Administrator
Time and Procedures Separate, distinct acts              Separate, distinct acts in order
                                                                                 to preserve the fragile relationship
Resources                Very extensive - more               Less extensive since the same
                                   personnel & training needed        person is wearing both hats
                                Administrators usually like to     Allows the administrator to fulfill
                                    help teachers grow. In this        bureaucratic responsibilities while
                                    model, their sole role is             also engaging in the rewarding
                                    evaluation and not growth.         acts of helping teachers grow

•    Supervision and Evaluation are High Priorities for the District
    o    Developing, implementing, and maintaining a system of supervision and evaluation is complicated, but when done well, it can reap great reward for all stakeholders involved including districts, teachers, and students.

•    The District Provides Opportunities for Differentiated Supervision
    o    "A single model of supervision for all tenured teachers does not make any more sense than a single model of instruction for all children (p. 40)."
    o    "The deeper tragedy of this (single model of supervision for all tenured teachers) failure to meet individual teacher needs is that many models of supervision and evaluation are designed with the case of the marginal teacher in mind. The entire system consists of regulations and practices designed to force marginal teachers to improve (p. 40)."

•    The Process for Evaluation Makes Clear the Criteria by which Performance is Judged.
    o    Evaluation criteria need to be clear and communicated clearly to teachers. Professional development is essential for obtaining and maintaining evaluator reliability and avoiding "observer drift."
    o    "Observer drift is a phenomenon in which researchers initially trained to achieve a high degree of reliability gradually drift into individualized interpretation once they start observing on their own (p. 41)."
    o    "Unlike teacher supervision, which is optimized by a differentiated, individualized approach, teacher evaluation demands consistency and uniformity across evaluators (p. 41)."

•    The Organizational Climate is Conducive to Effective Supervision and Evaluation
    o    "The most well intentioned and carefully crafted system of teacher supervision and evaluation will sputter and die in an organizational climate marked by distrust, animosity, and cynicism (p. 42)."
    o    Because evaluation is not based on relationships, the impact of a negative organizational climate is limited. Supervision, on the other hand, depends on relationships and is, therefore, extremely vulnerable to organizational climate.
    o    Evaluation offers limited growth potential. Supervision offers unlimited growth potential.

•    The Entire System of Supervision and Evaluation is Aimed at Enhancing Student Learning.
    o    Documenting the impact of the supervision and evaluation program on student learning is difficult because "the causal chain from a system of supervision and evaluation to improved test scores for an individual student is very long. The opportunity for interferences form a large number of intervening variables (teacher effort, student motivation, test-curriculum match, etc.) is huge (p. 43)" but essential for communicating successes to all stakeholders involved and for refining practices within the program itself.