Minister Sheds Light on Teacher Performance Evaluation Programme


Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry Wilson has clarified misconceptions surrounding the proposed Teacher Performance Evaluation programme.
Speaking at the launch of the Pre-Pilot training programme for the evaluation programme on Friday (April 2), at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston, Minister Henry-Wilson said that “Performance measurement is an attempt to come up with some objective basis on which to determine how a system is being managed,” and “not the same as performance-related pay”.
She however, added that this was not meant to establish that the sector would never get to the stage where this was done, but the present focus is “performance evaluation to determine what kinds of improvements and professional upgrading is needed” as well as the “best practices that can be adopted”. Mrs. Henry-Wilson said the arrangement would produce “winners” as persons could no longer say their evaluation results reflected preferences or discrimination, as there was an objective basis on which to assess performance in terms of fulfillment of the job contract and description. “The facts will speak for themselves,” she stressed.
She pointed out that, “promotions, professional development, assistance, and interventions,” were just some of the benefits to be derived from performance evaluation.
Noting that the year would be a challenging one for the sector because of the fiscal climate, the Minister told the gathering of stakeholders and educators that it was even more crucial that each dollar allocated was spent wisely to ensure that more funds could be released for the “onsite, school situation”.
Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, Wentworth Gabbidon said the development of the instrument was a long awaited one also reinforcing that the instrument was never developed to be used to determine pay for teachers. “We believe that high quality performance for teachers should not be hinged to money, because as teachers we believe in doing our best at all times,” he declared.
Acting Chief Education Officer in the Ministry, Adelle Brown, in giving an overview of the teacher performance evaluation programme, pointed out that the proposed programme was a positive one. In this, she said, “it is difficult to argue with the truism that the strength of a nation rests primarily on the strengths and capabilities of the human resources and the strength of the country’s human resources is reflective of the quality education provided by the country.”
Mrs. Brown further pointed out that the programme was developed against several imperatives including the Ministry’s strategic objective to devise accountability systems, which would seek to gain efficiency.
She reinforced that the programme was not a punitive one but one meant to support the teachers.
Minister Henry-Wilson told JIS News that the evaluation instrument and procedure was to be piloted in the 2004 May to July school term in 33 secondary and primary schools across the island, with the actual programme set to roll out this September. The pilot is to test the validity of the instrument and efficacy of the procedure.
The teacher performance evaluation programme has been designed to: encourage continued professional growth, identify both strengths and challenges among teachers and provide remedies for deficient performance that fail to contribute to productive professional and educational environment. It further seeks to identify among teachers those areas where quality needs to be maintained and ensure a strict system of accountability.

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