Performance appraisal in primary schools : managing the integration of accountability and development

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Whitford, Mark
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Smith, Alison
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
primary schools
performance appraisals
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Whitford, M. (2013). Performance appraisal in primary schools : managing the integration of accountability and development. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Management and Leadership.
This study set out to examine performance appraisal systems, more specifically the ways that state primary schools integrate the dual purposes of accountability and development that characterise teacher appraisal in New Zealand. A qualitative methodology was employed for this research, which focused on two primary schools. At each school, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the principals, and focus group discussions were undertaken with eight teachers in groups of four (appraisers and appraisees separately). A document analysis relating to the performance appraisal systems in each school, as well as external policy documents was also performed. The data collected were used to identify themes and commonalities across the schools in a cross-school analysis. The findings indicate that there is a variety of approaches to performance appraisal, although the dual purposes of accountability and development are both evident in the schools studied. As the literature and the data showed, successful appraisal can be achieved if certain conditions exist. These conditions are: effective leadership; trusting relationships; clear systems; and staff ownership of the appraisal process. Conversely, there were several challenges identified: the lack of clarity of appraisal terminology, closely linked with the confusion associated with the two sets of governing teacher standards; the lack of time for effective appraisal; having trust in the system and the people; and, finally, having clearly defined roles. These findings suggest that school leaders need to ensure that the performance appraisal systems that are created and implemented, meet the dual purposes of accountability and development. The recommendations arising from this study have implications for schools that include: developing a clearly defined appraisal process; maintaining a school culture which fosters collaboration, trust and learning; allocating sufficient time and resources for performance appraisal; and having clearly delineated roles for all stakeholders. The final recommendation is aimed at the Ministry of Education and the need to consolidate the Registered teacher criteria (New Zealand Teachers Council, 2010b) and the Professional Standards for Primary School Teachers (Ministry of Education, 1999b) into one set of governing standards for teachers.
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