Sindh government moves to modernise teacher evaluation

Karachi, June 2nd: The Sindh Government approved a new teacher performance evaluation format for government teachers across the province. Teachers will now be judged on factors related to the teaching profession, like student-centered teaching and active classroom management instead of the generic metrics of the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) applicable to all civil servants of a certain grade.

Three years ago, our team was brainstorming how we could create real incentives for government teachers to adopt practices like lesson planning and positive interaction to improve their teaching,” says Anam Palla, Head of Programs at Zindagi Trust, a non-profit organization that led the consultations for this effort. “We decided to advocate for improvement of a document used to evaluate teachers which, as a school head back then, I had found to be limited, outdated, and, consequently, largely irrelevant.

The initial consultations with the government identified a significant disconnect between the actual responsibilities of teachers and how their performance was being evaluated. Previously, teachers were supposedly judged on metrics such as typing speed, financial integrity and observance of security measures, which have little to no connection to a modern teacher’s role or scope. This meant that teachers were not assessed on their pedagogical skills and classroom interaction, leaving no incentive for them to improve in those areas. Not only did this performance evaluation system suffer from a lack of accountability for under-performing teachers, it also fell short on appreciation of exceptional teachers.

This initiative was the brainchild of Abdul Haque, former CEO of Zindagi Trust and an ardent advocate of institutional reform.

The ACR over the past decades had become a mere formality rather than be an instrument of assessment/evaluation. This was a poor reflection on the resolve to nurture merit in the system, leading to better governance. To keep pace with the emerging challenges of modern education, the instrument of ACR never evolved and thus lagged far behind. The gulf widened as the time passed, affecting adversely the quality of teachers, hence the standard of education. It was to address this gap that Zindagi Trust has been seized with overhauling the ACR Form for nearly four years.

Stakeholders from the Sindh Education and Literacy Department (SELD), Zindagi Trust officials and government representatives held several consultations over the years to develop a Performance Evaluation Report (PER) form customized to the teaching profession was developed. The new evaluation form has sections on Classroom Management, Planning and Instruction and Classroom Assessments, allowing for teachers to be assessed on their lesson plans, on using student-centered activities, maintaining regular feedback through assessments, and on encouraging a positive classroom environment, to name a few categories.

While our team at Zindagi Trust conceptualized the idea and the initial draft in 2018, and sought feedback from external partners therafter, much of the core work happened over the past year as technical experts and officials from the Education Department critically reviewed the form, field tested it with Head Teachers and supported its evolution through several iterations to the final form. The ownership taken by Education Department Officials has been heartwarming - adds Palla.

The provincial education minister and education secretary also commented on what this development would mean for education in the province and acknowledged Zindagi Trust’s role in taking this initiative.

The PER for teaching staff has been developed after a lot of homework, research and consultation with education staff, and concentrates on professionalism, said School Education Secretary Narejo. He added that the Zindagi Trust had provided assistance and necessary motivation in its development.

Education Minister Saeed Ghani said teachers play the most important and integral part in a child’s development.

Linking the PER of teachers to the unique nature of their job, which includes lesson planning, classroom management and other elements, will go a long way in incentivising more effective classroom practices.

He remarked that transforming the ACR into the PER was a great effort of the Sindh Education Department and the Zindagi Trust.

We will do our best to implement it and make it a dynamic document through annual feedback loops.

The efficacy of such an initiative will require a considered and comprehensive effort by the government to ensure that teachers and head teachers are not only aware of but understand what is now expected of them in and outside the classroom. It would be unrealistic to expect in-service teachers to instantly perform well according to the new metrics if they are not first trained to understand and deliver on them.

Another first for the Sindh government that I would like to appreciate and thank them for,” said Shehzad Roy, Founder of Zindagi Trust. “We are now looking forward to the implementation and training and then we can truly celebrate this win for Sindh’s schools. We tried to initiate this process with other provinces as well and hope they will follow soon.”

Read what the experts have to say about the improvement in teacher evaluation form.

The notification for Performance Evaluation Report published by the government of Sindh can be accessed here: Download