Philadelphia’s Teacher Appraisal System: Needs Improvement

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Publication Date
October 2009


Philadelphia’s Teacher Appraisal System lays out a number of features of the current appraisal system used by the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) that keep it from effectively supporting high-quality teaching. District schools rate teacher observations as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory, rather than providing nuance that could make the system more practical; there is an absence of adequate training for administrators in appraisal best practices; the tenure system is unrelated to teacher effectiveness; the termination process is burdensome and problematic; and in general the systems are antiquated and not designed in ways that could make them meaningful tools for teacher and school improvement. The report lays out six areas where change is needed: the appraisal system should be rooted in clear, rigorous, and evidence-based teaching standards; the appraisals should draw on multiple sources of data (rather than being solely based on classroom observation, as is the case in District schools); principals need to be well-supported in implementing a new teacher appraisal system; tenure should be a professional milestone that is earned and rewarded; the appraisal process needs to incorporate teachers as active participants; and the process of teacher termination should not be overly burdensome for principals nor disrespectful to teachers;


  • Camika Royal
  • Matthew Tossman