Managing performance of teachers in Queensland state schools Report 15: 2016–17

This audit assessed whether the Department of Education and Training's performance review process for teachers, as part of its overall performance management framework, is improving teaching quality in Queensland state schools.

Teachers are our schools' most important resource. Research shows that effective teachers make the biggest difference to student outcomes after family background.

Many factors beyond the school context can influence student outcomes. Teachers are skilled to embrace these challenges and are trained to adapt their teaching methods and materials to meet the needs of students with varying abilities, cultures and backgrounds in the same classroom.

An effective performance and development framework can motivate and challenge teachers to cultivate their skills and knowledge. And it keeps teachers responsible and accountable for their teaching performance. It can be used to recognise high achievers, identify under-performance, and encourage conversations about performance.

We assessed the design of the department's performance review process, and undertook detailed fieldwork at 10 state schools to determine how well the process has been implemented. We also looked at how the department meets teacher development needs and whether schools effectively manage unsatisfactory performance.

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Recommendations

Design of the annual performance review process for teachers

We recommend the Department of Education and Training:

1.

improves the self-reflection and goal-setting phase of the annual performance review process for teachers. (Chapter 2).

Improvements should include:

  • aligning it to current and future-planned teacher classification levels to ensure all teachers are required to self-assess and develop goals against the level they are expected, or aspire, to perform at
  • requiring school leaders and their teaching staff to comment on, agree, and sign-off on the teacher’s self-reflection of their performance and the development goals they should focus on

2.

explores the potential for providing school principals and school leaders with a more flexible annual performance development plan template. (Chapter 2).

Improvements should be focused on better alignment of teacher development goals to the individual school context and priorities.

3.

provides teachers with more resources to compose measurable development goals, with clear links to the type of evidence that will be required to indicate goal success. (Chapter 2).

Managing unsatisfactory performance

We recommend the Department of Education and Training:

4.

considers defining and communicating its meaning of unsatisfactory performance. (Chapter 2).

This will enable the department, school leaders and teachers to have a shared understanding of performance expectations.

Program monitoring

We recommend the Department of Education and Training:

5.

formally evaluates the effectiveness of its programs for state schools. (Chapter 4).

The evaluation should test that the department can objectively assess, in a timely manner, how effective its communications and change strategies are for delivering the intended change.

6.

assesses through its formative evaluation process the scale of the issue that schools are time-constrained to effectively implement the annual performance review process. (Chapter 4).