Parliamentary Replies

November 20, 2018

Teachers performance and appraisal

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Zainal Sapari, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) whether there are plans to review the current practice of ranking teachers for performance appraisal every year as an approach to cultivate a high performance workforce and identify low performers; (b) whether the benefits of performance ranking outweighs its challenges especially in terms having to ensure a 'correct' distribution of scores and creating a culture of individual competitiveness that is detrimental to team work and team dynamics; and (c) what alternatives have the Ministry considered for staff performance appraisals other than the current method.

Response

1. Differentiating performance is widely practised in public and private sectors because it recognises individuals who did well in fulfilling the missions and objectives of organisations.

2. The challenge is that performance evaluation involves qualitative judgement by supervisors. Supervisors may also have different standards – some are generous in giving good ratings, others may be stringent.

3. Hence, many large organisations, including the Singapore Civil Service, adopt the practice of cross department ranking. A teacher’s performance is assessed by his own supervisor, and cross-ranked against his peers by a ranking panel comprising direct and indirect supervisors. The system allows us to consistently identify and recognise stronger performing officers, while at the same time provide developing opportunities to weaker performing officers to help them improve their performance. In addition, it helps to moderate differences in supervisors’ assessments and establish common standards of performance.

4. While there are ranking guidelines to be adhered, there is also flexibility for deviation, depending on the performance of individual officers.

5. While a system of performance ranking may encourage good individual performance, teachers are assessed holistically across different facets, including the ability to work and collaborate with others. Teachers are also expected to be able to deliver effective teaching and pastoral care, support students in their character development, interact well with students and contribute to the learning of their peers.

6. The appraisal system is one of many tools to develop a culture of professionalism and strong sense of mission. We support teachers to pursue various professional development opportunities, from formal programmes to informal support through networked learning communities and mentoring arrangements.

7. Our schools give out Outstanding Contribution Awards every year to recognise school staff who work well in teams to make outstanding contributions to the school community. The President’s Award for Teachers is the apex recognition for the professionalism of teachers.