Shining a spotlight on the performance appraisal process for teachers, Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament (MP), Louis Ng called for the Government to standardise the performance management system of stack ranking to make it more “transparent, fair, and formative” for teachers.
In his speech in Parliament on 25 Feb, Mr Ng said that it is “contradictory” for teachers to tell their students that students are no longer ranked and compared relative to their peers, “while they themselves are ranked and compared relative to other teachers”.
He said this as he was calling for the quota system for performance grading of teachers to be abolished.
On Wednesday (3 Mar), he noted feedback from the ground that ranking is not the best method of appraising all jobholders.
“There are differences and limitations across schools and there is a need for a more standardised system,” Mr Ng explained.
He also noted the need for more transparency in the system — recounting feedback that many do not feel that the process of ranking is made transparent to all teachers — and to remotely complete the grades of C-, D, and D.
In his earlier speech, Mr Ng had explained how the quota system required that 5 per cent of teachers in each school had to be given grades of C-, D, and E, illustrating the need to abolish the quota system in performance grading.
Mr Ng had also noted the need for the appraisal system to be more formative rather than punitive.
“We should remove the punitive implications of getting a lower grade,” he urged, adding, “We should create a more nurturing environment for our teachers.”
On that note, Mr Ng went on to ask if the Ministry of Education (MOE) would strengthen procedures for teachers to seek feedback on their performance, as the current system only channels feedback after the actual grade has been issued.
“Some say that little is done to help teachers improve in the course of the school year,” he expounded.
“Similar to how our students have a mid-year exam to gauge whether they’re on the right track, our teachers also must be given feedback prior to receiving their actual grade.”
“There are guidelines in place for ROs to give intermittent feedback. We should ensure these are strictly followed.”
On the issue of feedback, Mr Ng also asked if the MOE would consider incorporating the 360-degree feedback tool into the appraisal process and link it to the performance grade.
He noted, “There is strong support for implementing a 360-degree feedback to assess the effectiveness of Reporting Officers at all substantive grades.”
In response, Education Minister Lawrence Wong reiterated that the performance management system currently in place supports teachers in Singapore.
However, Mr Wong added that the MOE will continue to review how the appraisal system can be more effective and supportive of teachers.
“The system is aligned with the rest of the civil service, so we will have to do this together with the civil service,” he said.
As to Mr Ng’s suggestion about removing the punitive aspect of the performance appraisal system, Mr Wong noted that it is “certainly something MOE can look at” and that the Ministry has been in discussion with the teachers’ union on the matter.
“So we will continue to engage them and work with them, taking in their suggestions to see how the system can be further improved,” the Minister remarked.