Just as it is important to assess students to determine areas in which they are performing well and also areas in which they may need additional support, it is also important to assess teachers. Teacher observations, checklists, and evaluations are all forms of teacher assessment and should be used by school leaders to help provide support and guidance to teachers based upon individual needs. Teachers can also use these tools to help access their own performance. There are many types of observation protocols, checklists, and evaluation models that can be used. It is important for administrators and teacher alike to be familiar with the protocols and forms within their school. Just like teachers prepare their students to succeed on tests, school leaders should assist teachers to prepare and excel on their assessments, i.e. observations, as well. Teachers should view the observations as an opportunity to learn and grow in order to become better educators with the skills and tools necessary to help students learn and develop.

Teacher Observation Protocols Purpose
Teacher observation protocols are established by schools to assist school leaders in evaluating teacher performance based upon established standards. The main goals of teacher observation protocols include identifying teachers who are either successful within the classroom or need additional assistance, offers professional development/growth opportunities to teachers, assist both teachers and school leaders, and identifies teachers who are falling below the standards without improvement. It is imperative that teachers are able to meet the established standards in order to provide a quality education to students. School leaders use observation protocols to ensure that students are receiving quality instruction from educators who are performing at an acceptable level. While the teacher standards vary between schools there are similarities. One thing is clear in all of the school protocols however, it is the teachers responsibility to be aware of the standards and expectations and show evidence that he/she is meeting those standards or is at least making progress in developing the skills necessary to meet the standards.

Teacher Observation Protocol Content
Most teacher observation protocols contain the following content: timeline for observations, list of teaching standards, rubric for interpreting observation data, observation checklist, and examples of meeting teaching standards. Not all observation protocols are so detailed however and may only include guidelines for the number of observations and suggestions for when they should take place throughout the school year.

Specific Observation Protocol Evaluations
Now that a brief overview of observation protocol has been provided, it's time to take a closer look at ten actual observation protocols from various states and school including both private and public. Once a description of each protocol has been provided, a brief comparison and evaluation of the protocols will be provided. As you are reading through the descriptions, take the opportunity to evaluate which protocol would be the most beneficial to you as a teacher and would help you evaluate your abilities and skills and become a better educator.

  • Baltimore City Public School Performance Based Handbook This is a very detailed document that contains information regarding the roles of the various staff members including the principal and department head as well as the individual teacher, explanation of the performance rating, information regarding the timeline of evaluations as well as information regarding the procedures including the procedure if the teacher does not receive a satisfactory rating, detailed information regarding the individual development plan (IDP) that each employee must develop each year, an evaluation rubric that includes specific indicators of success in specific teaching domains, pre-observation conference form, formal observation form, performance improvement plan form (PIP), performance review report, and all other forms necessary. This performance handbook is very detailed and provides guidelines and information for both school leaders and teachers regarding expectations and standards. Teachers should be familiar with the evaluation process and expectations after reading through this handbook. This handbook is to be used in all Baltimore City public school including elementary, middle, and high school level.
  • Fairfax County Public School Performance Assessment and Evaluation HandbookThis handbook defines the specific goals being evaluated, defines the evaluation scale, provides information regarding the specific procedures and means of data collection and evaluation, provides guidelines for referring teachers to use an improvement plan as well as when not to reappoint, there are specific examples of meeting the teacher standards, and all necessary forms including teacher observation checklist, sample teacher interview questions, and teacher self-evaluation. This handbook was specifically designed to be a resource for teacher to assist them in successfully meeting the teaching standards and maintaining good standing with their school leaders.
  • Floyd County Public Schools Professional Employee Evaluations This handbooks provides clear performance standards as well as performance indicators, lays out specific ways that performance is documented including student surveys, observations, etc., information regarding ratings and their meaning, information regarding improvement plans, and evaluation forms. This was another very detailed handbook that is a great resource for both teachers and school leaders. This evaluation plan uses various methods of evaluation including student surveys which are based upon specific grade level blocks (i.e. K, 1-2, 3-4, 5-8, and 9-12). All other aspects of the evaluation handbook apply to all elementary, middle, and high school teachers.
  • North Carolina Teacher Evaluation Process This document contains a clear purpose for the evaluation process, information regarding the specific process including general timeline and responsibilities of both the school leaders and teachers, information detailing the specific teaching standards and examples of meeting the standards, rubric for evaluating the data, and the evaluation forms. This handbook is important for both teachers and school leaders to be familiar with and use as a guide. These guidelines are to be used for elementary, middle, and high school teachers in public schools in North Carolina.
  • Jackson Public School District Teacher Performance Evaluation Like the previous documents evaluated, this handbook includes information regarding specific performance areas as well as indicators, a timeline for evaluation, other evaluation method guidelines including using student or parent evaluations, guidelines for professional development or remedial support based upon the individual need of the teacher, data sheets, and other forms. This handbook provides guidelines for teachers and provides them with information regrading options for alternative evaluations that are considered in addition to the observations conducted by school leadership. It is important to note that again these guidelines are to be used for elementary, middle, and high school teachers although the student evaluations are grade specific.
  • Bedford County Public Schools There was no handbook found for this county but there were documents provided that were very similar to ones found in other public school teacher evaluation protocols. There were links to student surveys based upon grade groupings as well as both pre- and post- observation forms. There were no specific guidelines regarding when the evaluations/observations were to take place and no standards provided for teacher guidance.
  • Broward County Instructional Personnel Assessment System This document contains guiding principles for assessing teachers, descriptions of the specific responsibility regarding the assessment of various employees including school leaders and teachers, specific indicators of teacher mastery of specific elements of teaching such as lesson planning, assessment, etc., descriptions of the ratings that appear on teacher assessments, specific procedure guidelines, detailed timeline, and performance improvement plan description and timeline. This handbook serves as a resource for not only school leaders but also teachers and helps them become more aware of ways to become master teachers. This handbook is to be used for all grade levels.
  • Diocese of Cleveland Evaluation Process for Catholic School Teachers This document contains a philosophy of education statement, detailed description regarding the responsibility of the school administrator in the evaluation process, suggested directions for evaluation of teaching staff including a timeline, conference prayers, forms with points of discussion to be used at specific conferences found on the evaluation timeline, a professional growth plan to be used by the teachers, pre and post observation forms, lesson observation form with space for detailed records, chart of the four domains of teaching that will be evaluated and specific indicators of these domains, and a summative evaluation form.
  • Covenant Christian School Faculty and Staff Handbook Within this document, a teacher evaluation plan is described including the time line for teacher observations based upon the level of teaching experience at Covenant Christian School, types of evaluation methods used such as informal and formal, who will conduct the evaluations, how the information gathered through the evaluations will be used, and even a description of the professional development guidelines. There were no specific evaluation forms included. The evaluation plan was to be used for all teachers regardless of grade level.
  • Monument Valley High School Teacher/Staff Handbook And Professional Practice Guide 2011-2012This handbook includes professional teaching standards for the state of Arizona, an overview of the teacher evaluation protocol which includes a time line of specific evaluations such as observations and conferences, a list of specific responsibilities of both the teacher being evaluated and the principal, and specific ideas for improving student performance within the classroom. There were no evaluation forms included in the handbook.

After taking the time to explore each of the above teacher evaluation protocols, it has become very clear that there are some specific similarities among the documents as well as some differences. It is clear that both private and public schools evaluate teachers based upon specific teaching guidelines, however, Covenant Christian School did not provide specific standards or domains that teachers were to be evaluated on in their staff handbook. The public school protocols as well as the Diocese of Cleveland evaluation process provided a written record of the specific standards or domains that teachers would be evaluated on and most also provided specific indicators of mastery of these standards. Each protocol also laid out the expectations of the number of observations/evaluations a teacher would receive each year based upon their years of experience within a specific school or school district. Some counties even provided teachers with the opportunity to evaluate themselves as well as parents and students which helps provide a more dynamic and authentic look at a teachers skills and weaknesses because of the variety of people participating in the evaluation process. While most counties did not have a separate evaluation protocol for various grade levels, it is noted that those school districts that included student evaluations with the teacher's evaluation did have grade specific student surveys.It is also important to note that the two private school protocols used indicated that teachers would not only be evaluated based upon teaching abilities and skills but also based upon character and religious aspects.

It is important for both teachers and school leaders to be familiar with the evaluation procedures for their school and to be prepared for the evaluations. Through observations and other forms of assessment, school leaders are able to determine areas that teachers may need additional support or even areas in which teachers are excelling. Teachers and administrators must work together to make sure that students are receive a quality education from fully qualified and prepared teachers.