Teacher evaluation process is not a new issue. As far back as 1991, teacher evaluation criteria has been a topic for discussion among institutions of learning and concerned parents. There have been several recent debates on acceptable ways of meeting the challenges faced in linking teacher evaluation process to student learning.
It is a clear fact that the performances of teachers in a given school, to a great extent, influence the overall performance or achievements of learners or students in that given school.
Linking teacher evaluation criteria and student learning is not legal in most countries owing to the stand or policies of most teachers unions. It is currently a large debate on how to use teacher evaluation in relation to learner’s achievements to determine or establish a teacher’s effectiveness.
A lot of issues have contributed to the failure of legalizing the teacher evaluation process in relation to student learning.
Some of the factors are as follows:
• Congruency: The measures that are being used to reflect learner’s achievement are not similar or related with best practice and philosophy of instruction in modern education.
• Reliability: The measurement for linking teacher evaluation criteria and student learning is observed to be unreliable since it does not include time as a variable i.e. the teacher’s time with a group or groups of learners and some models of ample time to view the effects of the learning on the learners or students.
• Finally, the failure of the measurement to take into account, the teaching context as a performance variable.
It is an established fact that student or learner’s performance or achievement correlates with a teacher’s performance, though it has been a Herculean task achieving its implementation in the United States.
Recently, there has been a lot of pressure to link the learner’s achievement and teacher evaluation because it is believed to be critical to the vitality of the education sector. It is mostly believed that validly linking teacher evaluation process and student learning will have a positive effect on the education work force.
Prior to this issue, teachers have not hidden the fact that they dislike the standardized national tests, which is the most commonly used method of assessing teachers in relation to students or learners’ achievements. They (teachers) argue that the state and local curricula are not aligned at all with the content of the standardized national tests.
In addition to the former, most education reformers have condemned these standardized national tests and described it reductive and not in any way representing the skills needed by the learners to develop for the present age.
There are a lot of constraints on linking the teacher evaluation process to learning.
Some of them are:
• Prior to now, several primarily standardized norm referenced multiple choice tests, which were developed and sold off the shelves by commercial test publishers were being used to measure student’s or learner’s achievements. Though these tests are useful educationally, the fact remains that they are not a valid form of measuring student or learner’s achievements or performances since they have the capability to mislead and distort effective teaching in the schools.
• Another constraint borders on financial input. There is a high possibility of developing a program for testing or linking teacher evaluation process with student learning and also aligning the assessments used for the evaluation to the curriculum being taught, but then, the issue is that investing in such program would lead to increase in the cost of assessing learner’s performance or achievements.
The fact that in majority of schools teacher evaluation is not being linked presently to student achievement does not mean it will not happen in the very near future. Schools should be prepared for this when it happens; the school curriculum needs to be reviewed and if possible, a few changes made. To actualize the aim of this review, it is highly advisable that the teachers be involved right from the conceptualization to the implementation of the review process.
Again, in reviewing the school curriculum, the involvement of the teacher in the issues of the curriculum matters.
How it is linked to him or her depends on:
- The level of his or her professional and academic training.
- The amount of material and electronic resources available to him or her.
- His or her level of understanding the role he or she is supposed to play in the development of the curriculum.
- Lastly, the amount of time available to him or her also comes to play.
The failure of this move should not deter the movement for the implementation of linking teacher evaluation process and student learning. There is a lot to gain from this, it is not a new issue because student achievement has to a large extent an impact on the increase in student’s learning abilities. It will also make teachers sit up and face the task before them, which is ensuring better performances for the students based on the level of teaching or instruction provided them by the teachers.