Guiding Beliefs and Principles
Professional growth and supervision are dynamic and ongoing processes. They form the basis for the development of teaching abilities, and should be founded on the Teaching Quality Standard (Ministerial Order # 016/97).
The evaluation process must reflect the central importance of the Teaching Quality Standard and be consistent with Alberta Education Policy 2.1.5 on Teacher Growth, Supervision and Evaluation. Anonymous questionnaires or interviews are not an acceptable part of a fair and ethical evaluation process and may violate the Association’s Code of Professional Conduct.
The evaluation process must be reasonable and in keeping with procedural fairness and the rules of natural justice. The rules are based on precise legal concepts that govern the actions of public bodies such as school boards and apply in any situation where an individual’s rights may be affected by the actions of the employer. These include the following:
- The teacher knows the expectations of the position.
- The teacher receives written notification that an evaluation of professional practice is to be undertaken and the reason(s) for it.
- The teacher is a full participant in the evaluation process.
- The basis for the evaluation process is identifiable data which is made available to the teacher.
- The teacher is made aware when expectations of the position are not being met.
- If there are performance concerns as a result of information from a source other than the supervisor, the information is provided to the teacher in sufficient detail for him/her to understand the concern and have an opportunity to respond. This includes copies of any notes or letters.
- The teacher is provided with appropriate assistance and time to address any identified performance deficiencies.
- The teacher understands the possible outcomes of a failure to improve performance.
The evaluation process is consistently applied to all teachers recognizing that expectations for the beginning teacher may not be as rigorous as those of an experienced individual. Effective systematic communication is a key component of fairness in any evaluation process, where the evaluation process is conducted in a cooperative and supportive climate that fosters mutual trust. The teacher has the right to consult with the Association during any part of the evaluation process.
Teacher Growth, Supervision and Evaluation Policy
The policy reflects a major change in philosophy about supervision and evaluation. It reflects a professional model based on teacher growth rather than teacher deficiency. The policy takes seriously the professionalization of teaching. All teachers are responsible for students’ learning and a model of collegial collaborative work will help change teaching practice and the organization of schools into learning communities.
- There is an assumption of teacher competence.
- Professional growth is a major focus of the policy. All teachers are required to create individual professional growth plans.
- Principals are required to supervise all teachers and, when there is a concern about a teacher’s teaching practice, to conduct an evaluation.
- Teachers who do not hold a continuing contract or permanent certificate will be evaluated.
- Supervision is a fundamental component of the policy and is pivotal to its success.
- Teacher professional growth means a career-long learning process whereby a teacher annually develops and implements a plan to achieve professional learning objectives or goals that are consistent with the Teaching Quality Standard.
- Teachers employed under probationary or continuing contracts are required to complete an annual growth plan.
- The teacher is required to submit his or her plan for review or approval.
- At the end of the year, the completed plan is reviewed.
- A teacher’s annual growth plan shall
- reflect goals and objectives based on an assessment of learning needs by the individual teacher;
- show a demonstrable relationship to the Teaching Quality Standard; and
- take into consideration the educational plans for the school, the school board and Alberta Education.
- Responsibility for receiving and reviewing growth plans may be delegated to a body of teachers.
- Unless a teacher agrees, the content of an annual growth plan shall not be a part of the evaluation process of a teacher.
- Despite this, a principal or superintendent may identify behaviours or practices that require an evaluation provided that the information is based on a source other than the teacher’s professional growth plan.
- A teacher who does not complete a plan may be subject to discipline.
- Supervision means the ongoing process by which a principal or superintendent exercises instructional leadership and carries out his/her duties with respect to teachers and their teaching, as required under section 20 of the School Act.
- A fundamental component of the policy is ongoing supervision of teachers by the principal or superintendent including
- providing support and guidance to teachers,
- observing and receiving information from a variety of sources about the quality of education a teacher provides to students and
- identifying the behaviors or practices of a teacher that are not in keeping with the Teaching Quality Standard.
- When a principal has reason to believe that a teacher’s teaching may not meet the standard, the principal may
- work with the teacher directly, through supervision, to provide assistance to change behaviours or practices or
- initiate an evaluation
- Throughout the supervision process, the principal should share relevant information with the teacher.
- Through ongoing supervision, the principal or superintendent seeks to be satisfied that a teacher’s teaching meets the requirements of the Teaching Quality Standard.
- An important role of the principal is to provide guidance and support to improve the teacher’s quality of instruction.
- Teachers should be willing to receive collegial advice and assistance.
Evaluation means the formal process of gathering information or evidence over a period of time and the application of reasoned professional judgment by a principal in determining whether one or more aspects of the teaching of a teacher exceeds, meets or does not meet the Teaching Quality Standard.
- The evaluation of a teacher by a principal or superintendent may be conducted under any of the following circumstances:
- Upon the written request of a teacher
- For the purpose of gathering information related to an employment decision
- For the purpose of assessing the growth of the teacher in specific areas of practice
- When, on the basis of information received through supervision, the principal has reason to believe that the teaching of the teacher may not meet the standard
- On initiating an evaluation, the principal or superintendent shall communicate explicitly to the teacher the
- reasons for and purposes of the evaluation;
- process, criteria and standards to be used;
- timelines to be applied; and
- possible outcomes.
- When an evaluation determines the teacher’s teaching does not meet the Teaching Quality Standard, the evaluation period may be extended or a notice of remediation may be issued to the teacher.
- The notice of remediation describes the required change in behaviour or practice; strategies the teacher is expected to pursue; how it will be determined whether the required changes have been made; applicable time lines; and the consequences of not achieving the required changes.
- Following the notice of remediation, the following steps are recommended:
- A program of assistance is offered to the teacher.
- If the teacher’s teaching exceeds or meets the standard, the evaluation ceases.
- If the teacher’s teaching does not meet the standard at the end of the timeline specified in the notice of remediation, and considering the best interests of the students, teacher, profession and the jurisdiction, then it may be appropriate to
- offer an additional period of remediation or
- give the teacher a change of assignment or
- a combination of the above two or
- recommend termination of the teacher’s contract of employment.
Steps in the Supervision/Evaluation Process
The principal conducts ongoing supervision.
- The principal provides feedback to the teacher on concerns raised during supervision.
- The principal provides guidance, support and assistance to the teacher to address concerns identified through supervision.
- The teacher demonstrates improvement or the teacher seems unable to respond to the assistance and suggestions offered during supervision.
- The principal decides, based on the evidence gained through supervision, that the teacher’s teaching may not be meeting the expectations of the Teaching Quality Standard and board policy.
- The principal meets with the teacher to discuss the concern or evidence that the teaching may not meet the Teaching Quality Standard.
- This meeting may result in
- the teacher continuing under the supervision process or
- a written notice of evaluation being given to the teacher.
- The principal and teacher meet to discuss and draft an evaluation plan.
- Appropriate time is provided to carry out the evaluation as described in the evaluation plan.
- The principal writes and presents the evaluation to the teacher who has the opportunity to append notes to the report. The evaluation report may recommend one of three options:
- The teacher, having met the expectations of the Teaching Quality Standard, continues in the supervision process.
- The evaluation timeline is extended with specific actions outlined.
- The teacher is issued a Notice of Remediation because the evaluation shows that the teacher did not meet the expectations of the Teaching Quality Standard.
- The program of remediation as outlined in the remediation plan is implemented.
- Evaluation at the end of the remediation process may result in:
- a return to the supervision process (if the teacher has met the expectations of the Teaching Quality Standard) or
- an extension of the remediation plan or
- a change of assignment or
- a recommendation by the superintendent to the board to dismiss.
At any time in the process, the principal and/or the teacher may seek assistance from the Association.
Reasons for the initiation of an evaluation of a teacher on continuing contract can be quite diverse but they should not be frivolous, petty or vindictive. In short, they must first be professionally defensible. A single complaint about a teacher should not, as a matter of course, start an evaluation. A series of complaints or a complaint accompanied by other concerns may be sufficient.
Professional Practice Review Process
The Teaching Profession Act, section 4(b)(vii), provides for the Association to assess the professional competence of its members by means of a practice review process provided for in the bylaws of the Association. Under the Practice Review Bylaws, the monitoring and maintaining of practice standards is in accordance with Alberta Education’s Teacher Growth, Supervision and Evaluation Policy 2.1.5 and the Teaching Quality Standard (Ministerial Order # 016/97). These documents, as well as the complete text of the bylaws, can be found in the Members’ Handbook and on the Association’s website.
Any individual can make a complaint to the superintendent regarding the practice of a teacher. Before proceeding to a formal investigation, the superintendent must meet with the complainant to determine the nature of the complaint and to ensure that the complainant has made reasonable attempts to address the matter with the teacher and principal concerned. The superintendent must also gather details to determine if the complaint is appropriate to the practice review process and if the actions occurred less than two years prior to the complaint being made.
In many instances, when a concern is raised, the superintendent can resolve the matter informally by meeting with the complainant to discuss possible solutions that would be acceptable to all the parties involved. If the complainant believes that it is necessary to proceed to a formal complaint under the Practice Review Bylaws, he or she must submit a written, signed complaint. In cases where there has been no complaint submitted by another person, but the superintendent has reasonable grounds to question the professional competence of a teacher, he or she may initiate an investigation in accordance with the bylaws.
Making a Complaint
10(1) Any person may make a complaint concerning the professional competence of a teacher with respect to teaching students.
(2) A complaint under section 10(1) may only be made with respect to concerns about the professional competence of a teacher that occurred less than 2 years prior to the complaint.
(3) A complaint shall be in writing and signed by the person making it and submitted to the superintendent of the school board employing the teacher.
(4) Before acting on a complaint, the superintendent shall:
(a) meet with the complainant to discuss the nature of the complaint; and
(b) ensure that the complainant has attempted to address the complaint with the teacher and the principal concerned.
(5) A complaint shall be investigated and dealt with in accordance with these Bylaws.
(6) Despite not receiving a complaint under this section, if a superintendent has reasonable grounds to question the professional competence of a teacher who is an active member of the Association, the superintendent may initiate an investigation in accordance with these Bylaws provided that the investigation is with respect to concerns about the professional competence of a teacher that occurred less than 2 years prior to the initiation of the investigation.
(7) If after a person’s membership in the Association lapses or has been suspended or cancelled
(a) a complaint is made about the former member, and
(b) the complaint relates to the professional competence of the teacher before the lapse, suspension or cancellation, the complaint shall be dealt with under these Bylaws as if the lapse, suspension or cancellation had not occurred, if the complaint is made within 2 years after the date of the lapse, suspension or cancellation.
The superintendent will investigate to determine whether the teacher’s professional practice is meeting the requirements of the Teaching Quality Standard. The superintendent must also ensure that the provincial Teacher Growth, Supervision and Evaluation Policy 2.1.5 has been followed. This assessment could be based on
- information or evidence from recent evaluations and/or
- information obtained from the principal.
Based on the investigation, the superintendent may decide that the competence of the teacher is not in question or that there is a need to engage in further supervision and evaluation of the teacher’s practice. If the superintendent decides that an evaluation is to be conducted, the process for that evaluation must also be in accordance with the provincial Teacher Growth, Supervision and Evaluation Policy 2.1.5.
11(1) Subject to section 10(4), upon receiving a complaint under section 10(1) or upon initiating an investigation under section 10(6), the superintendent shall investigate whether the investigated teacher is meeting the Teaching Quality Standard and shall advise the complainant, if any, and the investigated teacher that an investigation is being conducted.
(2) When conducting an investigation under subsection (1), the superintendent shall ensure that the Teacher Growth, Supervision and Evaluation Policy has been followed.
Following an investigation arising out of a complaint, the superintendent will advise the complainant and the investigated teacher of the outcome of the investigation. Should the superintendent determine that the teacher’s professional competence will not be assessed by the Professional Practice Review Committee, the complainant may request a review of the superintendent’s decision by the Complainant Appeal Committee.
Complainant and Investigated Teacher Advised
13(1) The superintendent shall advise the complainant, if any, and the investigated teacher in writing when the investigation is complete, and that
(a) the investigated teacher’s professional competence will be assessed by the Professional Practice Review Committee, or
(b) the investigated teacher’s professional competence will not be assessed by the Professional Practice Review Committee and shall provide reasons for the decision. The superintendent shall advise the complainant, if any, that the complainant has the right to request a review by the Complainant Appeal Committee of the superintendent’s decision. A copy of the notification to the complainant shall be provided to the Executive Secretary.
Complainant’s Request for Review
14(1) The complainant, within 30 days after receiving notice that the investigated teacher’s professional competence will not be assessed by the Professional Practice Review Committee, may by notice in writing to the Executive Secretary request a review of the superintendent’s decision by the Complainant Appeal Committee.
(2) A request under subsection (1) must include:
(a) reasons why the complainant believes that the superintendent should have made a report under section 12(1) thereby requiring that a hearing be held by the Professional Practice Review Committee, and
(b) a fee in the amount of $250.
(3) On receiving notice under subsection (1), the Executive Secretary must notify the investigated teacher and the superintendent that the Executive Secretary has received a request for a review and refer the matter to the Complainant Appeal Committee.
(4) At least 15 days before the date set for a review, the Complainant Appeal Committee shall notify the complainant, the investigated teacher and the superintendent:
(a) of the date, time and location of the review, and
(b) of their right to make representations to the Complainant Appeal Committee.
(5) If new information is available to the Complainant Appeal Committee that was not available to the superintendent, the Committee may, in making its decision, consider the information if it is relevant.
(6) The Complainant Appeal Committee shall notify the complainant, the investigated teacher, the Executive Secretary, and the superintendent in writing of its decision with reasons.
(7) The Complainant Appeal Committee may:
(a) affirm the decision not to have the teacher’s professional competence assessed by the Professional Practice Review Committee, or
(b) direct that the teacher’s professional competence be assessed by the Professional Practice Review Committee.
When the superintendent, whether acting on a complaint or not, concludes that a teacher is not meeting the requirements of the Teaching Quality Standard, that the Teacher Growth, Supervision and Evaluation Policy 2.1.5 has been followed and that the teacher’s suitability for certification is in question, he or she may refer the matter to the executive secretary of the Association to order a hearing by the Professional Practice Review Committee. On receiving such a referral, the executive secretary of the Association must order a hearing.
Superintendent’s Report Considered
12(1) If on completing an investigation the superintendent concludes that
(a) the Teaching Quality Standard is not being met by the investigated teacher,
(b) the Teacher Growth, Supervision and Evaluation Policy has been followed with respect to the investigated teacher, and
(c) the investigated teacher’s suitability for certification is in question,
then the superintendent shall within 30 days make a report to that effect to the Executive Secretary.
(2) Within 30 days of receiving the report under section 12(1), the Executive Secretary shall direct that a hearing take place by the Professional Practice Review Committee to consider the professional competence of the investigated teacher and notify the Registrar.
As is the case during the investigation process conducted by the superintendent, the teacher, if he or she so requests, may be represented at the hearing by the Association in accordance with Association guidelines.
Representation Before the Professional Practice Review Committee
16(1) The investigated teacher, the Association and the hearing committee may each be represented by counsel or an agent at a hearing before the hearing committee.
(2) The Executive Secretary will appoint a professional officer of the Association or legal counsel to represent the Association at the hearing and to present the case against the investigated teacher.
The Practice Review Bylaws provide for the establishment of three committees, which have distinct roles in the process.
The Professional Practice Complainant Appeal Committee is composed of at least three persons—two to four Association members and one member of the public—who receive representations from the complainant on those occasions when the superintendent has determined that the matter should not referred to the executive secretary for further action.
The Professional Practice Review Committee is composed of not fewer than seven Association members and three public members. For each hearing, a hearing committee of two classroom teachers, one principal or assistant principal, one central office-based administrator and one public member is selected. The hearing committee determines whether the teacher’s professional competence meets or does not meet the Teaching Quality Standard and determines penalty if applicable.
The Professional Practice Appeal Committee consists of not fewer than three and not more than five Association members and one public member. The committee hears appeals of decisions by hearing committees.
In the hearing itself, all evidence is taken under oath and must, in general, conform to the rules of evidence as they would apply to other legal proceedings. Witnesses may be subpoenaed and compelled to attend. If the investigated teacher, after having been served an appropriate notice of hearing, fails to attend, the hearing committee may proceed in the absence of the teacher and act, decide and report on the matter in the same way as if the investigated teacher were in attendance.
Proceedings in Absence of Investigated Teacher
23 A hearing committee, on proof of service in accordance with these Bylaws of the notice of hearing on the investigated teacher may:
(a) proceed with the hearing in the absence of the investigated teacher, and
(b) act, decide, and report on the matter being heard in the same way as if the investigated teacher were in attendance.
A teacher may voluntarily request the cancellation of his or her teaching certificate by the registrar. If the certificate is cancelled, the executive secretary shall then cancel the teacher’s membership in the Association and any investigation or hearing that may be in progress.
Voluntary Request for Cancellation of Teaching Certificate by Investigated Teacher
24(1) When an investigated teacher requests the cancellation of the teacher’s teaching certificate pursuant to section 27 of the Certification of Teachers Regulation, the Registrar shall provide a copy of the request to the Executive Secretary and shall advise the Executive Secretary whether the teaching certificate has been cancelled.
(2) If the investigated teacher’s teaching certificate is cancelled, then the Executive Secretary shall cancel the investigated teacher’s membership in the Association and any investigation by the superintendent, hearing by a hearing committee, or appeal by the Appeal Committee shall be terminated.
The practice review process goes beyond employment. It is a process by which, in the interest of students, the public and the profession, a teacher’s membership in the Association may be cancelled or suspended and a recommendation may be made to the minister to suspend or cancel the teacher’s certificate, ensuring that the individual can no longer practise in Alberta. If the hearing committee makes any other order and the teacher contravenes the order, the teacher’s membership in the Association may be cancelled or suspended.
Implications of the Code of Professional Conduct
Professional judgment may quite properly cause a principal to inform supervisors of a teacher who is encountering serious problems or whose work is below an acceptable level of competence as an individual or as a member of the school’s staff. As long as the statements are true and unbiased and the process conforms to clauses 13 and 14 of the code, this situation will not lead to conflict between a principal’s duty to the school and employer on the one hand and obligations to the Code of Professional Conduct on the other.
Before finalizing a report, the evaluator should arrange for a discussion with the person concerned. This discussion should be solely between these two people. A copy of a report by any person should be given to the person reported on before it is sent to anyone else. The person about whom a report is written should have the right to comment on it and submit it to the author of the report. The author of the report should file both the original report and the commentary jointly, or subsequently file a copy of the commentary, with all parties who received a copy of the report.
Code of Professional Conduct
14 The teacher, when making a report on the professional performance of another teacher, does so in good faith and, prior to submitting the report, provides the teacher with a copy of the report.
In conclusion, it must be remembered that related policy and relevant clauses of the Code of Professional Conduct make certain demands on a principal with respect to relationships with staff members. They make equivalent demands of a teacher, and principals have every right to expect to receive the same professional courtesies that they are required to extend.
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