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Mailbag: Thoughts & Recommendations On The Use Of Technology In Evaluation

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In a previous mailbag post, I responded to a question about how some of the best HR departments in education are approaching educator evaluations. To continue with the evaluation theme, another reader, Ben, recently asked:

"Emily - When it comes to the "How" of implementing a teacher evaluation system, and ensuring that the process is as efficient and manageable as possible for principals and other admin staff, it seems that a technology component is necessary. The ability for principals to input observation data on a tablet or mobile device, and then the ability to quickly compile the numbers into reports and useable measurements seems to be a key to success. What are your thoughts and recommendations on the use of technology by districts to manage the process and data collection?"

School districts come in all sizes. Yet, I believe when a district reaches a critical mass of teachers-around 100 or more-that incorporating a technology solution to manage the data collection and evaluation process is imperative. To replace the transactional HR activity of managing evaluation processes, a technology tool needs to help district leaders tackle the big issues with the evaluation process, including data security, transparency, accountability, and communications to ensure staff understand the tool, while also working to reduce the burden on the evaluators. More specifically, education leaders should have the ability to:

• Make the system fit their needs
• Get real-time results of evaluation scores
• See who has been evaluated and who still needs to be evaluated
• Go paperless! Using a smart phone, iPad, tablet, or other mobile device to input data, review data, etc
• Configure forms, landing pages, and printable documents
• Store, back-up, and recall documents to a secure location outside of the building, as well as provide a background of who accessed documents and when
• Review process maps or the flow of system information
• Export results in a printable format for an individual or compile and create reports containing overall data
• Export data spread sheets or excel files
• Support evaluations for all staff, not just teachers
• See year-to-year trends and changes by reviewing current and past data
• Set calendars, send email reminders, and make notes automatically to remind employees of tasks that need to be completed
• Quickly train staff, enabling them to use the system to reduce paper work, time, and data management challenges
• Integrate with other technology systems

Why? I strongly believe-and many educators and talent managers would agree-that having high-quality, real-time data allows for more strategic decision making. It may enable teachers, principals, superintendents, and department heads, for example, to make more accurate decisions about which employees need coaching or other professional development resources.

It is critical that districts take a thoughtful approach when it comes to selecting, implementing, and reviewing an evaluation technology solution. It is also very important to not only choose a quality product, but a vendor who values great service, honesty, and collaboration to ensure your district has the capabilities to create, train, implement, and revise an evaluation program of your own. Many districts that I am working with at the moment have come to realize that such a relationship (whether with a vendor or internal group) is the most important factor to successfully integrating an evaluation technology solution into their system.

Have a question? Post it in the comments below or tweet me @EmilyDouglasHC. I will do my best to answer every question, and may feature yours in a future post!

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