Early to mid-spring is the time to complete teacher and principal appraisals as well as evaluations for all employees including auxiliary staff.
Evaluations should not be a surprise to employees. Employees should be well informed of the timeline, criteria, and evaluation instrument used. Best practice is to communicate this information at the beginning of the year with regular reminders and periodic check-ins during the year. Supervisors should reinforce evaluations are based on performance of assigned duties and job-related criteria, and evaluation ratings are based on cumulative performance data gathered throughout the year.
An evaluation serves several purposes including:
- Communicating job performance standards
- Providing feedback to improve employee performance
- Documenting accomplishments
- Identifying performance problems
- Developing improvement plans, if needed
When implemented consistently and professionally, the process can provide an opportunity to establish positive working relationships between supervisor and employee and facilitate continuous improvement of employee performance. Many supervisors use a coaching model to involve the employee more successfully in the process.
Most employers require employees to be appraised annually and expect supervisors to hold at least one conference to discuss the evaluation and provide a copy of the written evaluation to the employee. Evaluations should be considered when making decisions on promotions, transfers, reassignments, and terminations.
If an employee has a complaint regarding an evaluation or the appraisal process, the individual should follow the college or district’s complaint policy for employees—Policy DGBA.
Teachers are appraised through the commissioner’s recommended teacher appraisal system, the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS), or a locally developed appraisal system adopted by the board of trustees. Appraisals occur annually unless the district establishes local criteria for exceptions.
Principals and other appraisers must strictly adhere to the district’s appraisal calendar for orientation training, developing the goal setting and professional development plan (GSPD), completing observations and walkthroughs, sharing data collected with a teacher, and holding the end-of-year conference.
The written summative report must be shared with a teacher within 10 working days after the conference and at least 15 working days before the last day of instruction for students, or earlier if noted on the district’s T-TESS appraisal calendar.
A new appraiser may find managing their appraisal load challenging. Waiting until the end of the appraisal cycle to complete the process may result in scheduling conflicts and rushing through the process. Scheduling appraisals throughout the year will help alleviate these problems. New teachers should be allowed time to acclimate to the classroom prior to the first appraisal. An experienced, struggling teacher should be appraised at the beginning of the cycle to allow time to work on developmental activities.
Uncertified teachers or classroom instructors should be evaluated using the same appraisal instrument and processes as certified teachers since they are held to the same standards and job performance expectations.
Just as with teachers, campus administrators should be evaluated annually using the commissioner’s recommended principal appraisal system, the Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System (T-PESS), or a locally approved alternative principal appraisal system. Again, timelines for orientation, goal setting, sharing data, and holding conferences should be followed according to the district’s T-PESS appraisal calendar.
It is important to note district funds may not be used to pay an administrator who has not been appraised in the preceding 15 months as per Texas Education Code (TEC) §21.354(d).
All other employees should be evaluated using the district’s forms and timelines. A multitude of sample evaluation forms, including a sample self-appraisal form, are available in the Employee Performance section of the HR Library (member login required). It is common to include a section on the evaluation form for general skills that are expected from all employees and a specialized skills section specific to the job.
The newly released Administrator’s Guide to Managing Employee Performance is a valuable resource which provides guidance for supervisors on how to effectively use the evaluation process to successfully manage and improve employee performance.
It’s important for supervisors to document all aspects of the evaluation process including observations, directives, informal counseling, and conferences. Although most of the documentation will remain at the campus or department level, the summative appraisal record, including rebuttals, should be placed in each employee’s personnel file at the central office.
Cheryl Hoover is an HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Cheryl an email at email@example.com.
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