OECD Review on Evaluation and Assessment Frameworks for Improving School Outcomes

Publication Details

In 2010 New Zealand participated in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Review on Evaluation and Assessment Frameworks for Improving School Outcomes. The purpose of the review was to explore how systems of evaluation and assessment can be used to improve outcomes in primary and secondary schooling.

Author(s): Ministry of Education

Date Published: April 2011

Chapter 5: Teacher appraisal 

Teacher performance has a strong link with student outcomes. This chapter outlines the approach New Zealand uses to appraise teacher performance.

5.1 Current practices

5.1.1 Overall framework for teacher performance management

284. The functions, roles and responsibilities associated with the management of teacher performance are distributed across the Ministry, NZTC, schools and ERO. The performance management framework aims to ensure that all students in New Zealand schools experience effective teaching.

285. The framework for teacher performance management incorporates both accountability and improvement purposes. In the context of self-managing schools, the Board of Trustees is accountable for overall personnel management. Responsibility for staff performance management is usually delegated to the principal. School leaders, therefore, have a pivotal role in establishing the school conditions for teacher appraisal, the quality and implementation of teacher appraisal procedures and the use of appraisal results for improvement.

286. The outcomes of teacher appraisal are used for different purposes. These purposes include: teacher registration, attestation for the purposes of salary progression and improving professional practice.

287. The regulatory framework for teacher appraisal has a number of components:

  • the legislative framework provided by the State Sector Act (1988) and the Education Act (1989);
  • mandatory requirements for performance management in schools, Guidelines on Performance Management Systems (1997);
  • two sets of professional standards: professional standards embedded in the Guidelines on Performance Management Systems and the Primary and Secondary Teachers
  • Collective Employment Contracts, and the Registered Teacher Criteria developed by NZTC;
  • teacher appraisal for accountability purposes: registration against the standards set by the NZTC for entering the teaching profession and maintaining ongoing membership; and
  • attestation against the professional standards for salary progression;
  • teacher appraisal for improvement purposes linked to ongoing professional learning and development to improve teaching and learning linked to either set of professional standards.

288. The framework of standards used for teacher appraisal focuses on professional values, knowledge, practices and relationships, and includes an expectation that teachers analyse and reflect on evidence to improve their teaching practice. The link between teacher appraisal and other forms of evaluation, such as student assessment and school assessment is, however, likely to vary between schools, depending in part on the quality of school leadership.

289. Recent changes to the registration standards, now called the Registered Teacher Criteria, developed by NZTC, place a much stronger focus on student learning outcomes, including teachers’ analysis and use of student assessment information. The Ministry of Education’s new self-review tool for school leaders also guides them towards analysing classroom and school-wide assessment information in order to inform school priority setting, professional development planning, and changes to teaching practice. This shift towards a greater focus on student achievement is reinforced by recent amendments to centrally-managed professional development contracts for school leaders.

290. In its accountability role, ERO reviews schools’ compliance with the legislative requirements in terms of the State Sector Act (1988) and the Education Act (1989) as well as the quality of the policies and practices associated with school performance management systems. Where there are issues with student achievement, ERO will investigate the quality of school processes associated with, for example, classroom teaching, assessment, self review and planning, professional leadership, personnel and resource managemen, and identify areas of focus for improvement.

Role of the New Zealand Teachers Council

291. NZTC has regulatory and professional leadership functions in relation to teacher performance management. Significant functions related to teacher performance include:

  • setting standards for entry to, and maintaining ongoing membership of, the profession;
  • setting requirements for and approving initial teacher education programmes;
  • carrying out processes for the registration of teachers (the issue and renewal of teachers’ practising certificates);
  • carrying out processes for dealing with issues of competence and discipline of teachers;
  • supporting the development of teachers’ knowledge and understanding of the standards and the commitments of the teaching profession, including the Code of Ethics for Registered Teachers.

292. In recent years, NZTC has focused its work programmes on points of leverage associated with entry to, and ongoing membership of, the profession. An overview of teacher career progressions is shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Registration and career progression of teachers

Image of Figure 6: Registration and career progression of teachers.

Teacher professional standards

293. There are two sets of professional standards for teachers in New Zealand. These sets of standards were developed separately, by different agencies for different purposes.

294. The requirements for teacher performance management in schools are prescribed by the Secretary for Education, in accordance with section 77C of the State Sector Act (1988).117 Professional standards for teachers (see, for example, Annex 5) and guidelines to support their implementation, were developed when performance management systems were introduced in schools (1997).

295. In 1999, as part of the Government’s negotiation of the Primary and Secondary Teachers Collective Employment Contracts, these professional standards were included in the agreements to provide a basis for annual attestation for movement up the salary scale. As a consequence these standards have assumed greater importance because of their link to pay progression for teachers through the attestation process.

296. These professional standards describe three levels of teacher development:118

  • Beginning Classroom Teachers - provisionally registered teachers (teachers in the first two years of teaching);
  • Classroom Teachers – registered teachers who have generally been teaching for between three and five years;
  • Experienced Classroom Teachers – generally teachers who have had three successful attestations at the classroom level.

297. There are additional standards for Deputy Principals and Assistant Principals (Primary Schools) and for holders of units of additional responsibility (Secondary Schools), which must be met in addition to the classroom teacher standards, for those in leadership and management roles.

Registered Teacher Criteria and Graduating Teacher Standards

298. The Registered Teacher Criteria and the Graduating Teacher Standards were developed by NZTC in consultation with the sector.

299. Until 2009, a set of standards called the ‘Satisfactory Teacher Dimensions’ were used to determine what constituted a satisfactory teacher for the purposes of registration. Teachers were assessed against the following dimensions: professional knowledge, professional practice, professional relationships and professional leadership. NZTC required satisfactory performance in these dimensions (a minimum level of acceptability) for its purposes under the Education Act 1989.

300. In 2010, the ‘Satisfactory Teacher Dimensions’ were replaced by the Registered Teacher Criteria (Annex 6), which describe the criteria for quality teaching that are to be met by all fully registered teachers and guide the learning of provisionally registered teachers (PRT). The criteria relate to two dimensions of practice: professional relationships and professional values; and professional knowledge in practice. The Registered Teacher Criteria will be progressively implemented 2010-2013.

Graduating Teacher Standards

301. Graduating Teacher Standards have been in place since 2008. NZTC developed Graduating Teacher Standards in response to a demand from the teaching profession for more consistency in the quality of all graduates from all teacher education programmes.

302. There are seven Graduating Teacher Standards (Annex 7). These relate to: Professional Knowledge; Professional Practice; and Professional Values and Relationships. The standards apply to all graduates, including Māori-medium settings. Teacher education providers must demonstrate that new teaching programmes, and those for which they are seeking re-approval, align with the Graduating Teacher Standards, if they are to gain approval to run the programmes. Courses are approved every five years so that by 2012 all courses should have been tested against the standards.

303. There is currently no process for ensuring each graduate has met the standards. Initial Teacher Education providers decide whether the graduating student has met the standards and can therefore apply to the NZTC for provisional registration and seek employment as a teacher. There is no moderation of how these standards are applied. Quality assurance occurs at the design stage rather than the decision stage.

5.1.2 Teacher appraisal procedures

Compulsory registration

304. Registration is compulsory for teachers. The Education Act 1989 requires teachers to be ‘satisfactory’ practitioners and, when renewing their practising certificates every third year, to satisfy the NZTC that they remain so.

Requirements for teacher registration

305. Performance management and legal requirements for teacher registration need to be incorporated into any performance management system operating in a school. Each Board of Trustees must identify both performance expectations and development objectives based on key performance areas and/or key performance responsibilities. This policy is consistent with the requirements of NZTC, particularly the organisation of an induction and mentoring programme to be offered to teachers who are registered provisionally or subject to confirmation. An effective performance management system in a school needs to include a method for ensuring that an accurate picture is maintained of how teachers continue to meet the dimensions and criteria by which NZTC deems a teacher ‘satisfactory’ (Registered Teacher Criteria).

306. The following registration requirements should be contained within an effective Performance Management System:

  • the induction and mentoring of teachers registered ‘provisionally’ and ‘subject to confirmation’;
  • the ‘satisfactory teacher’ dimensions for all teachers (the Registered Teacher Criteria from 2010), affirmed when the practising certificate is renewed or a Provisionally Registered Teacher (PRT) applies to move to full registration;
  • the professional learning and development undertaken for all teachers, affirmed when the practising certificate is renewed.

307. The recommendation to move to full registration is based on the professional judgement of the principal and school leaders. At the conclusion of two years teaching as a PRT the principal is required to attest that a PRT has undertaken an induction and mentoring programme over a period of two years and has been satisfactorily assessed against the registration criteria. The PRT can then apply to move to full registration and the principal must sign registration application declarations.

308. Similarly, the renewal of practising certificates is based on the judgement of professional leaders in schools. The renewal process assumes that leaders have carried out appraisals of teachers confirming that they meet the dimensions of satisfactory performance (in the Registered Teacher Criteria) and have completed satisfactory professional development.

Requirements for the appraisal of teachers

309. Teacher appraisal is compulsory, serves both improvement (professional development) and accountability functions and is a process that is internal to the school.

310. The Guidelines on Performance Management Systems119 specify a number of requirements that Boards of Trustees, as the employers of teachers, must adhere to when assessing teacher performance. The requirements include principles that underpin teacher appraisal policies and processes, specific features of the appraisal process and aspects that should be appraised.

311. Boards of Trustees have flexibility in designing performance appraisal systems appropriate to their school and community, within a minimum quality assurance and accountability framework.120


312. Boards of Trustees must ensure that policies and procedures for the appraisal of teacher performance are part of an integrated performance management system operating within the school. The policies and procedures should be appropriate for teachers, the school and its community context; developed in a consultative manner; be open and transparent; have a professional development orientation; be timely and helpful to the individual teacher; and consider matters of confidentiality.

Features of the appraisal process

313. The Board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring that:

  • a policy for the appraisal of teacher performance is in place in accordance with the above principles;
  • responsibility for the implementation of the appraisal policy and process is formally delegated to a professionally competent person or persons;
  • the appraisal process for each teacher is completed in accordance with the policy;
  • each teacher participates in the appraisal process at least once within a twelve-month period;
  • the school has a specified process for dealing with disputes.

314. Boards of Trustees (through the person(s) responsible) must ensure that the appraisal process includes the following elements: 

  • the identification of an appraiser and the development of a written statement of performance expectations, in consultation with each teacher;
  • the identification and written specification of one or more development objectives to be achieved during the period for which the performance expectations apply;
  • for each development objective, the identification and written specification of the assistance or support to be provided;
  • observation of teaching (for those with teaching responsibilities) and self-appraisal by the teacher;
  • an opportunity for the teacher to discuss their achievement of the performance expectations and the development objective(s) with their appraiser;
  • an appraisal report prepared and discussed in consultation with the teacher.

Aspects that should be appraised

315. Boards of Trustees (through the person(s) responsible) must ensure that the performance expectations for teachers relate to the key professional responsibilities and key performance areas of their positions. Key responsibilities and performance areas include:

  • teaching responsibilities (such as planning and preparation, teaching techniques, classroom management, classroom environment, curriculum knowledge, and student assessment);
  • school-wide responsibilities (such as contribution to curriculum leadership, school-wide planning, school goals, the effective operation of the school as a whole, pastoral activities and student counselling, and community relationships);
  • management responsibilities (such as planning, decision-making, reporting, professional leadership, and resource management).

Principal appraisal

316. In the context of this chapter it is important to note that principals are appraised on personnel management issues (NAG 2).121

317. Principals, who as chief executives of school Boards are responsible for teacher appraisal, are also subject to assessment.122 School Boards of Trustees appraise the principal and must:

  • formulate an appraisal policy;
  • clarify the principal’s role regarding performance expectations;
  • fund development objective(s);
  • develop and sign an annual performance agreement;
  • arrange for the operation of suitable appraisal processes;
  • review their practice for principal appraisal.

318. The implementation of management expectations associated with the National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) in schools are generally delegated by the Board of Trustees to the principal and set out in a principal’s job description:

  • curriculum management (NAG 1);
  • personnel management (NAG 2);
  • financial and property management (NAG 3);
  • school planning and self review (NAG 4);
  • managing the physical and emotional environment of the school (NAG 5);
  • school administration (NAG 6).

School implementation of appraisal procedures

319. Because Boards of Trustees have flexibility in the design of performance appraisal systems appropriate to their schools and communities, teacher appraisal procedures within individual schools vary widely.

320. Usually, Boards of Trustees delegate the responsibility for staff performance management, including teachers, to their principals. Depending on the size of the school, principals might either delegate the responsibility for teacher appraisal to a professionally competent third party or perform the duties themselves. The appraiser must be identified in consultation with the teacher concerned. A written statement of performance expectations must be drawn up collaboratively between the appraiser and the appraised. Development objectives that are to be achieved during the period for which the performance expectations apply must be identified and written. This written specification must stipulate what assistance or support is to be provided to the teacher in order to reach the specified objectives.

321. Teachers are assessed against the professional standards contained within the individual collective agreements for attestation purposes. Under the terms of the agreements, Boards of Trustees (through their appraisers) are obliged to follow these standards. The standards closely mirror the responsibilities/performance areas set out in the Guidelines on Performance Management Systems.

322. Anecdotal evidence suggests that operating a high trust, internal process in a school context where the principal signs out attestations and assessments, either for moving to full registration, renewal of practising certificates, attestation for salary increments or managing performance appraisal processes, school management personnel ‘amalgamate’ the registration standards and professional standards in practice. While schools may do separate assessments and attestations for different purposes, they are likely to draw on the same evidence for determining whether a teacher has met the standard.

5.1.3 Competencies to appraise teachers

323. The Guidelines on Performance Management Systems require that an appraiser is a professionally competent person. There is no definition of the knowledge and expertise required to be an appraiser, although in most schools appraisal will be the responsibility of experienced teachers and managers. In smaller schools, the role of appraiser is likely to be the responsibility of the principal. In larger schools, other senior staff may be appointed to the appraiser role by the principal. No special training is required or given to evaluators. No formal evaluation of appraisers is carried out.

324. NZTC has recently developed a draft framework of knowledge, skills and attributes for the training of mentor teachers. This initiative provides a basis for the systematic development of skills for appraisal as one of the components of a mentor teacher’s role.

325. Suggested content for mentor teacher development includes: leadership development; the pedagogy of mentoring; knowledge of the Satisfactory Teacher Dimensions and the Registered Teacher Criteria; approaches to gathering evidence of teachers’ learning and providing and documenting formative feedback; collection and analysis of learning data for PRTs to engage with in their professional learning; and knowledge of specific strategies for supporting differentiated learning needs.123

5.1.4 Using teacher appraisal results

326. Teacher appraisal results are used to determine whether teachers meet the performance expectations set out in the written statement developed by the appraiser and the teacher at the beginning of the period for which the performance expectations apply. At the end of the performance period, the appraiser provides the appraised teacher with feedback on the areas in which he/she has done well as well as on areas where improvements are needed. If performance shortfalls have been identified, then professional development opportunities can be implemented to redress these issues.

327. Teacher appraisal results are used to determine recommendations in relation to the application for full registration and the renewal of practising certificates.

328. Appraisal results are also used to guide progression on the salary scale. The current scale has 14 steps and the initial placement on that scale is dependent on qualification levels. Satisfactory teacher appraisal results lead to further progression up this scale. In practice, teachers usually progress up the salary scale each year.

329. The individual collective agreements contain sections that deal with serious competence issues that may be identified during the appraisal period. These provisions promote an approach where teachers are informed of any serious performance shortfalls as early as possible. An appropriate assistance and guidance programme must be put in place and a teacher will normally be given 10 school weeks to remedy matters of concern. At the end of this period, an assessment will be made as to whether concerns have been resolved. If the problems causing concern have not been resolved by the end of this period, the teacher may be dismissed.

330. Reporting to the NZTC is mandatory when, despite completing a competency procedure, a teacher has not reached the required level of competence, or when a teacher resigns having been advised by the school of dissatisfaction with some aspect of competence.

5.2 Implementation of teacher appraisal

331. The approach to the implementation of teacher appraisal is a high trust model. Because responsibility for implementing performance management systems and appraisal procedures is devolved to schools, there is potential for a wide variation in the quality of practice. The evidence base about the quality and impact of appraisal practice is limited.

332. There is little evidence available about the range and consistency of data-gathering methods used in teacher appraisal within schools. Schools are expected to include self evaluation, classroom observation and interview. Sinnema’s (2005) investigation of teacher appraisal in the New  Zealand context found that limited attention is given to student learning in appraisal documents, discussions and goals.124 A study of provisionally registered teachers (2007) found that many were unclear about what standards their appraisals were based on as there were no external moderation procedures to monitor and assure quality.125

333. NZTC is seeking to gain more consistency in understanding and application of the new Registered Teacher Criteria in the implementation phase of the criteria. Workshops are being held throughout New Zealand promoting practices that enhance a common understanding of the ‘standards’ of practice teachers should gather evidence on and demonstrate.

334. ERO’s reports on individual schools provide evaluative information about the quality of teaching in relation to the learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and the school policies and practices that support teaching and learning. ERO has published a number of National Evaluation Reports on the effectiveness of teaching in specific curriculum learning areas.

335. Recent ERO National Evaluations, Managing Professional Learning and Development in Primary Schools (2009) and Managing Professional Learning and Development in Secondary Schools (2009)126 show that a wide variation exists in the quality of school management of professional learning and development programmes. A key factor determining how well teacher professional learning and development is managed appears to be the quality of the principal's leadership and management of the school's programme.

5.3 Policy challenges and initiatives

336. There are several challenges associated with implementing teacher appraisal effectively in the New Zealand context. These challenges relate to: professional standards; the quality and consistency of the implementation of teacher appraisal processes; and developing capability in teacher appraisal.

Professional standards

337. There are currently two separate sets of professional standards in place. The first are the standards for teacher registration purposes and the second are the standards outlined for pay progression in the collective agreements. Boards of Trustees must also comply with requirements associated with the State Sector Act (1988) and the mandatory requirements for performance management in schools (1997). Agreement to a coherent set of professional standards would assist in the definition and exemplification of quality.

338. Within the education sector, opinions on the extent to which appraisal can or should be used for high stakes judgements, or whether it should simply feed into professional development decisions, are mixed.

339. The recent report of an independent Education Workforce Advisory Group127 recommended setting clear standards against which effective, transparent and robust judgements of teacher capability and performance can be made. The new Registered Teacher Criteria, developed by NZTC, were published in January 2010 for implementation from 2011. The advisory group also recommended greater flexibility for principals to use resources such as salary units and non-contact time to provide opportunities for teachers to upskill, and to reward their increased expertise and capability. The Government will consider the advisory group report and outcomes of a public consultation process.

Quality and consistency of implementation

340. In New Zealand the primary challenge for the system is ensuring effective teaching for all students. There are few mechanisms to ensure that the standards used are applied rigorously, fairly and consistently across the profession.

341. The multiple sector players with different perspectives involved in teacher appraisal is a challenge in ensuring quality and consistency. Unions, teacher professional organisations and parents are all directly or indirectly involved in the implementation of teacher appraisal. In the school setting there may also be a number of personnel involved in the appraisal process.

342. The Best Evidence Synthesis Programme has brought together the evidence linked to outcomes related to quality teaching, professional learning and development and leadership. The evidence suggests a need to develop the provision of opportunities for building the capability of school leaders in the effective implementation of teacher appraisal to improve the quality of professional practice and student outcomes.

343. The Professional Standards for Primary and Secondary Principals have been revised (Annex 8).

Developing capability in teacher appraisal

344. Several recent programmes provide the basis for further building capability in carrying out teacher appraisal.

345. The focus of a number of successful professional learning and development initiatives128 (Annex 9) on the detail of classroom practice has raised awareness about the importance of effective data-gathering methods, such as the use of video, to be able to effectively analyse and develop classroom practice.

346. NZTC has led a pilot programme focused on strengthening the induction and mentoring of PRTs during their first years of teaching as qualified teachers. The programme trains mentor teachers to purposefully observe teachers’ practice, provide evidence-based feedback, facilitate professional learning conversations based on data from the teacher’s practice and collect evidence for both formative and summative evaluations of the teacher.

347. In response to requests from principals for additional tools, the Ministry of Education is supporting the development of tools that support effective evidence-based appraisal and professional learning processes that will improve outcomes for and with Māori students and other students.


  1. Section 77C provides for the Secretary for Education to prescribe matters to be taken into account when assessing the performance of teachers.
  2. The terminology below describes the levels for secondary teachers. The term Fully Registered Teachers is used instead of Classroom Teachers in the professional standards for primary teachers.
  3. www.lead.ece.govt.nz/sitecore/content/minedu/home/NZEducation/EducationPolicies/Schools/SchoolOperations/‌EmploymentConditionsAndEvaluation/PerformanceManagementSystems.aspx
  4. The Education Act (1989) gives school Boards the control of the management of schools with wide ranging powers, which include the authority to appoint, suspend or dismiss staff.
  5. For a discussion of issues associated with the appraisal of principals see Wylie, C. (2009). Getting more from school self-management. In J. Langley (Ed). Tomorrow’s Schools 20 years on… (pp. 135-146).Auckland: Cognition Institute.
  6. www.lead.ece.govt.nz/sitecore/content/minedu/home/NZEducation/EducationPolicies/Schools/SchoolOperations/‌EmploymentConditionsAndEvaluation/PerformanceManagementSystems.aspx
  7. Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H., & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher Professional Learning and Development. Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
  8. Sinnema, C. (2005). Teacher appraisal: Missed opportunities for learning. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis. Auckland: University of Auckland.
  9. Cameron, M., Dingle, R., & Brooking, K. (2007). Learning to Teach: A survey of provisionally registered teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand. Wellington: New Zealand Teachers Council.
  10. Education Review Office (2009). Managing Professional Learning and Development in Primary Schools. Wellington: Education Review Office.
  11. Education Workforce Advisory Group (2010). A Vision for the Teaching Profession, Education Workforce Advisory Group Report to the Minister of Education. Wellington: New Zealand Government.
  12. Examples include: the Literacy Professional Development Project; the Numeracy Development Project; Te Kotahitanga; assessment initiatives; and some schooling improvement projects.