By Karim Mohamamd Khan
‘Appraisal’ is defined as the making of judgments about the worth or a value of a phenomenon in terms of agreed upon criteria such as a goal. Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA) scheme serves to evaluate teachers’ performance against a goal agreed by mutual understanding between the appraiser and appraisee.
According to literature, the application of performance appraisal started in England and Wales in order to inform the issues and training considerations in education during the decades of the seventies.Hence, it brings improvement in the quality of teachers’ performance through which the school can accomplish its goal. Poster and Cyril (1994) support the idea that TPA as a means for promoting the organization’s ability to fulfill its goal. For the accomplishment of the school goal, TPA helps in identifying the gaps and training needs of teachers for further development in order to meet the standards of teaching and learning. Crafts (1996),Glover and Law, (1999) of the view thatTPA provides opportunities for professional development through reflection and feedback, collaboration, involving the exchange of ideas and mutual support. Newton (1996) expresses similar views that TPA is a tool for employee’s improvement, setting targets, evaluating strengths and finding areas, where more training improves the quality of his/her work and performance. Studies indicate that improved performance leads to improved learning, which results in greater motivation and job satisfaction.
However, Geraldine (1997) and Lunenburg (1999) disagree with the above concepts of TPA and argue that it is a process of collecting data on teachers’ performance for the purpose of determining pay level, dismissal, and disciplinary actions. I agree with what the author perceives as TPA for accountability, as in my context it is mostly seen to serve the goals of managerial purposes, in which certain decisions are taken to promote or demote or even suspend teachers from their job. Hence, it develops suspicion and feelings of de-motivation among teachers. Literature further adds that teachers are fearful of the use of appraisal as a judgmental mechanism.
Nevertheless, in the context of developing countries, it has been evident through several studies that TPA can also be perceived and performed effectively by exercising less control and developing a conducive learning environment. In the Nigerian context, research shows that it was succinctly revealed that if properly done, appraisal could be a very effective intervention in motivating teachers in the schools to improve their performance in teaching and facilitating students’ learning. Fleming and Max (2001) further add that in order to make the appraisal effective, it must be accepted by all those involved in the rigorous and developmental process. It is implied that engagement of teachers in planning, policy making, setting achievable targets and goals, sharing the criteria and giving constructive appraisal feedback can motivate teachers towards their job.
In the context of Pakistan, studies reveal that TPA is seen as a powerful tool in the hands of inspectors and school managers, who exercise the power of accountability to transfer teachers, promote them or even suspend them for negligence of duties. Further, it was also found that TPA is used for the increment and accountability that is more for management purpose, rather than for professional development. Literature indicates that accountability can force principals and policy makers to exercise greater control over the domain of teachers’ activities, which are likely to lead teachers towards de-motivation. Adding to that (Sheikh & Iqbal, 2003) believe that in the context of Pakistan particularly in the public sector schools, the system of teachers’ performance appraisal is very poor and performance reports are very rarely based on actual performance.
To sum up, it can be argued from the above given discussion that TPA is mostly seen as tool for identifying training and professional development needs. Through which, teachers can get the opportunities to improve their teaching and learning in order to accomplish the school’s mission; and according to relevant literature, improved performance leads towards motivation. On the other hand, literature claims that if TPA is nestled with the purpose of accountability, exercising with strict and unnecessary control over the domain of teachers’ activities can de-motivate teachers. Nevertheless, its nature varies from context to context, if it is applied effectively that is, empowering teachers in their work domain and giving them opportunities to develop personally and professionally, could motivate teachers to perform better. These conclusions lead us to believe that there is no one universal theory and practice of TPA. Different practitioners in different parts of the world see TPA differently.