Made to measure

9th February 2001 at 00:00
Lynne Taylor looks at the review section of performance management and urges vital pre-emptive action Did you go to the BETT educational technology show this year? I spent time looking for products and services specifically related to assessment tracking and performance management. I only really scratched the surface of what is on offer, but discovered an array of new performance management services, many products to enrich a school's assessment portfolio and software that may help to focus initiatives during the performance management cycle. However, I was disappointed in that I couldn't find any performance management service provider that offers its services through any ICT option, other than documents on a word processor. You can find links to these and other products and services at www.tes.co.ukonlineperformit Under review This series continues with some ICT solutions for you to consider during the "review" section of the performance management cycle. As before there are many more ideas and links at www.tes.co.ukonlineperformit Isn't it a year before reviews take place?

Yes that's true. The first review cycles for heads should now have begun and a meeting and setting of objectives should have taken place before December 31, 2000. For teaching staff, objectives need to be set before the end of February 2001. However, if the ICT tools are not in place now for "setting objectives" and "monitoring", effective review strategies will not result.

I can only guess at what will happen at these future reviews, but unless a school can collate, evaluate and then act upon the information gained throughout the cycle, performance management may become yet another stick to beat you with - some have suggested to me that it's an annual Ofsted inspection!

Make the cycle work for you I believe, if managed correctly, every teacher can greatly benefit from the performance management process. All teachers have development needs, eg improving ICT skills, using new classroom resources, gaining innovative management skills. The analogy to pupil assessment tracking is very clear and I find myself repeating words to heads and governors that I used for my first series, Magic Markbook (www.tes.co.ukonlineassessit) "Be prepared to address and respond to the underlying issues that assessment (performance management) data illustrates as once you are aware of this, doing nothing is not an option!" Getting started Only an ICT solution can offer an effective method to look objectively at the overall performance throughout a school, as well as pinpointing performances that have been ound and identifying areas for improvement. Patterns of whole-school development needs will emerge as well as those for individuals. By using diagnostic self-evaluation of your own teaching and learning experiences you will have a powerful tool to aid self-improvement.

A reminder of the review process A teacher's performance review should use the recorded objectives (Made to Measure - November 10, 2000) as a focus to discuss his or her achievements and identify any development needs. Objectives for the following performance management cycle will also be agreed during this time.

Only an ICT solution will provide both reviewer and "reviewee" with a clear, objective picture throughout the cycle. A purposeful process established now will ensure consistency for everyone. I see the DFEE's performance review tool - Interactive Autumn Package - and an online version of the PANDA data resource playing a major role here.

Team leaders need clear guidance to evaluate a teacher's overall performance and this should include an objective assessment of the extent to which original objectives have been met. Within 10 days of the review meeting, the team leader has to prepare a written review statement, recording the main points made at the review and the conclusions reached. If this information is to be used for the good, it is crucial that it is stored centrally for analysis.

Does the DFEE or others offer help?

There are plenty of support materials for performance management but there is little evidence that any have recognised that schools will want to use ICT as their principle tool. Document files to download are in abundance but where are the software solutions to objectively manage the process? I am aware that some are now slowly evolving and I will keep you in touch with developments. The teaching unions have produced some excellent materials. Visit www.tes.co.ukonlineperformit for details.

Can I share good practice?

I get many emails offering support for my work in Made to Measure and Magic Markbook. Many schools have told me of their excellent work using ICT as a tool within the assessment field, but as yet there hasn't been a single school that has shared their performance management processes. Even a small initiative that uses ICT could be a great help to other schools. If you contact me, I can share it with others.

Lynne Taylor runs Cogent Computer Solutions, based in Kenilworth. Questions can be emailed to cogentcs@aol.com. Previous assessment materials can be accessed on the TES Online website www.tes.co.ukonlineperformit


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