A study of the appraisal of mathematics teachers in Ghana
Teacher appraisal may provide opportunities for teachers to improve the quality of their teaching, thereby increasing the quality of pupil learning. Literature on teacher appraisal in Ghana indicates that the appraisal system is designed to serve both formative and summative purposes. The ability of the appraisal system to provide opportunities for mathematics teachers to develop professionally is the subject of this study. The study aims to: a) identify the nature and purposes of Teacher Appraisal in Ghana (TAG); b) examine the validity of existing methods of TAG specifically by: i ... examining the potential of the appraisal system to help mathematics teachers improve their teaching of mathematics; 11 ... finding which variables are significantly related to Ghanaian secondary mathematics teachers' views of teacher appraisal in Ghana and its ability to help them improve their teaching of mathematics c) identify the implications of any changes in the existing teacher appraisal systems for Ghana's educational policies. 441 secondary mathematics teachers participated. 193 of these teach the subject at the junior secondary level and 248 teach it at the senior secondary level. In addition, 44 Ghana Education Service officials (and 6 heads of secondary schools) who appraise mathematics teachers were sampled. Questionnaires and interviews were used to collect teachers' and appraisers' perceptions of the appraisal system. Additionally, some appraisers were observed while at work. The results of the study showed that many education officials in Ghana who appraise mathematics teachers, and who are required to 'help' mathematics teachers improve their work, have little or no training in secondary school mathematics teaching or its appraisal. Regarding mathematics teachers' perception of the appraisal system, highly significant negative correlations were found between their perceived professional support and rank and professional status at the senior secondary level; whereas relatively weak positive correlations were found between perceived support and last appraisal session and rank at the junior secondary level. Thus, the results indicated a dramatic difference between junior secondary and senior secondary mathematics teachers in their perceptions about the potential of the teacher appraisal system in Ghana to help them improve their teaching of mathematics. Senior secondary mathematics teachers were generally more pessimistic about the potential of the appraisal system to help them improve their work than their junior secondary counterparts. Putting the results at the junior secondary and senior secondary levels together, the study found professional status to be the single most important determinant of teachers' attitude to teacher appraisal in Ghana as a formative process. The above differences between junior secondary and senior secondary respondents thus reflected the differences in the two groups of teachers' academic and professional qualifications in mathematics. The findings of the study lead to the conclusion that the teacher appraisal system in Ghana cannot, in its present form, provide opportunities for mathematics teachers to develop professionally. The implications of the findings are discussed.