Informing teacher appraisals using student performance data

February 4, 2019
By: Nigel Sheppard, Deputy Head Teacher, Horndean Technology College

Under The Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012, schools must appraise teachers’ performance on an annual basis. The regulations apply to school teachers in all maintained schools and unattached teachers employed by a local authority. However Academies, free schools and other independent schools can determine their own appraisal arrangements.

I think most schools set at least 3 objectives or targets that relate to student outcomes, the quality of teaching and learning and an individual’s professional development enveloped by the ‘teacher standards’. We also set an additional objective for all main stream teachers to indicate their ‘contribution to the one year College Improvement plan. For subject leaders we set a further objective which is the department performance/outcomes and for those on the Upper Pay Range we also set objectives related to their sharing of good practice, mentoring of disadvantaged children and INSET contribution. For this blog though I will outline our objective(s) related to outcomes. This is the one that often causes the most potential conflict and one that can be challenging if not done in context or without some common sense!

It is interesting (especially in the light of the recent report of the ‘Teacher Workload Advisory Group November 2018 – Making Data Work’) to consider how the performance of someone who does not have an exam class could be compared with someone who does have one. On top of that the challenge of measuring the influence any one individual has on a single class is fraught with difficulties and variance. Indeed, if you consider ‘confidence intervals’ in a school, let alone a class of perhaps 20 or 30 children (and sometimes in small option groups this can be considerably lower) can we really be sure of the impact any one of us truly has? Nevertheless, in secondary schools we tend to look at performance and measure outcomes in terms of exam performance.

At my school we label this as:

Objective1: Student Attainment & Progress

(A Teacher has met or made substantial progress taking into account their status, length of service and any circumstances reasonably beyond their control)

As you can see below we set benchmarks and give a score to that which is achieved. We do this for all objectives so that an overall score is calculated. At every stage though we have the caveat ‘(A Teacher has met or made substantial progress taking into account their status, length of service and any circumstances reasonably beyond their control)’ so we try to be fair but we also state that:

The points system is a ‘steer/guide’. It does not automatically determine the final judgement. The Performance Manager makes a recommendation which the Moderation Team either endorse or reject/amend and Governing Body Committee make final decisions. As a general rule however it is unlikely (although numerically possible) that should a member of staff achieve minimum expectations or below for Objective 1 – Student Progress and Attainment but achieve highly in other areas they are unlikely to gain Exceptional Performance although each case will be treated on its merits.

Furthermore the Moderation Team in making their final decisions refers to the manual of Personnel Practice which states Teachers’ performance should be assessed in totality in the context of the wide range of information that is available, including, but not limited to lesson observation information and pupil progress and attainment data.  Individual performance may be rated at different levels in relation to each key area, but schools will be required to provide an overall judgement of performance in order for this to be linked to a pay outcome.  The Moderation Team refers to Managing and developing staff / Pay Policy / Guidance on performance management ratings: descriptors of rating and expectations of teachers in making final recommendations to the Governing Body (see Pay Policy)’

In essence we set these objectives related to student’s Key Stage 2 starting point and use FFT data to help establish these. Ideally we will be in the top 20% of schools so this is what we set targets at but in reality this is not always the case and so, after a few years of ‘trial’ (and some error!) we set ours along with SISRA subject index data as follows:

There is not always a direct correlation between SISRA’s SPI index and FFT estimates but you can see from the above that in essence if a student/class are at the top of the Subject Progress Index then they are also likely to be at or above their FFT20 estimate which we feel is indeed ‘exceptional performance’.

I was particularly keen therefore to ensure the Subject Progress Index included the right subjects. I am pleased to say that there appears to be a better correlation between subjects linked to the Collaboration groups in SISRA than there was previously with FFT comparison data. Indeed, previously some BTEC course in FFT were grouped against GCSE subjects which did give a distorted figure although I think this year it is becoming more refined.

We get very few, if any, complaints now about judgements related to outcomes. Staff generally accept our methodology which has evolved over time with SISRA’s subject Progress Index really helping to consolidate this. I am happy to share or discuss any matter so please feel free to contact me if and as you wish.

Nigel Sheppard, Deputy Head Teacher, Horndean Technology College