All of us at some point in our working career have had a personnel evaluation.  Over the years, I have heard stories about good, bad, and downright ugly performance evaluations.  Phrases used such as “One of your strenthgs is your ability to be candid when communicating with staff.”  “You lash out at staff.”  “Dude, you and Joanne are always in shouting matches.  What’s up with that?”

I just had my annual review in September! 

The process my office uses to conduct performance evaluations is a mix of summative and formative approaches. It includes the staff person doing a self-assessment (a summative reflection on what the person accomplished over the past year) and a face to face meeting with their supervisor (a formative discussion of long term goal mastery strategies). Our evaluation process used to include peer review (you had to get two co-workers to provide to your supervisor written feedback on your strengths and areas in which you could improve) but they no longer require that step. I think the 360 degree evaluations are best – information is collected from the person, their boss and co-workers, and from customers/consumers of the organization. Having said that, I remember providing peer review to a supervisor about a co-worker. While I didn’t say anything out of line, I did suggest some areas of improvement which the supervisor proceeded to read to the employee word for word (including my name)!

Most organizations conduct annual job evaluations that become part of the individual’s personnel file. They are often used to either document poor performance (to make the case for termination) or are used to justify promotions. While personnel evaluations are important for the employee to receive feedback on their performance, behavior, accomplishments, areas for improvement and quality of work, they are equally important to supervisors as a tool for learning how to judge performance, provide feedback, recognize accomplishments, and identify weaknesses.

To gauge whether and employee’s performance is below average, average or above average, the personnel evaluation must describe measurable job duties and goals, or standards by which the employee will be evaluated. What is often missing is that each employee’s job description should meet the goals of the organization so the person knows how they fit into the agency.

Over the past couple of weeks, our UDL class has engaged in discussion on creating expert learners, writing learning goals, providing effective feedback. A quality personnel evaluation within the UDL framework would consider:

  • the fit of the employee in their environment and within the organization (mission);
  • attributes that support or distract/impede the employee in performing tasks and meeting their goals:
  • the development of expert learners; and
  • continual feedback (not just one time a year).

The National Center on Universal Design for Learning describes goals as learning expectations…”They represent the knowledge, concepts, and skills all students should master, and are generally aligned to standards….are articulated in a way that acknowledges learner variability and differentiates goals from means…offer more options and alternatives—varied pathways, tools, strategies, and scaffolds for reaching mastery…are focused on developing expert learners” ( UDL curriculum, 2011). This concept of expert learners (those who are skillful, goal-directed, knowledgeable, and motivated to learn more) is very relevant to the work environment – the creation of life-long learners.
When considering employee performance, don’t forget about non-cognitive goals (motivation, affect, behavior, self-concept and social skills). From a blog I wrote on this topic earlier this week, non-cognitive goals are just as important when considering success and need to be integrated into any personnel evaluation.

And just a note on feedback…Feedback needs not only to be continual, but to be effective, should center on the task, process, and self-regulation. Feedback that only occurs once a year or that focuses just on the self (praise) does not improve work performance.


The National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (Feb 2011). What is meant by the term curriculum. Retrieved from


8 responses »

  1. wchalmers says:

    What a GREAT Blog!!! 🙂

  2. dgarcia30 says:

    WOW…. I couldn’t write my blog on job-assessment/review because I haven’t had a real one in a couple years….Last one, years ago was handle to me and had checks on it – your doing great and sign here.

  3. kristin45305 says:

    I have a new boss this year who I doubt actually knows what I should be doing at my job so I think my annual review will not be very relevant. Maybe it will be an opportunity for her to learn about my job since she doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to me yet.

  4. Wow, interesting way to do an evaluation, not a bad idea; though areas that can be proven upon. Something for me to think and explore upon. Always enjoy reading your posts-

  5. lmoskowitz says:

    I prefer for the supervisor to pop into my classroom on a regular basis throughout the year and use that as the basis for my formal evaluation write up. I think that a one time summative- 42 minute visit into a classroom does not yield a knowledgeable and informative picture of a teachers abilities and strengths. I believe that it is the supervisors responsibility to know what is happening in the classroom on a regular basis and I really do not like the idea of co-workers being responsible for taking on that role.

  6. Fran says:

    Nicely summarized Dana. I love your suggestions on how to wrap a UDL lens around this evaluation situation. Sounds like you may have some information to share with others? Do you think this evaluation process can be revised through a UDL lens? Would this require a change to the system and if so, how would you propose this change?

    • dvyarbrough says:

      I think that the self-evaluation component currently in place is important and should be retained in any personnel evaluation process. It could be improved upon by building in questions that address the various ways the staff person acquires information/knowledge and demonstrates what s/he knows — for example…recognition networks (how do you gather and make use of work data?), strategic networks (in what ways do you interact with your environment?), and affective networks (describe some of your social interactions with customers, co-workers).

      In addition, the evaluation should be more frequent, perhaps quarterly, so that there are opportunities for continual feedback. And, it would be interesting to have opportunities for staff to develop a portfolio (products, photos, etc) that highlight their job experience.

  7. melburn01 says:

    We just had professional development on new administrator/teacher evaluations. 50% is based on qualitative data and the other 50 is based on quantitative data regarding student achievement. It is not that simple, of course. I love the new format we are using for the qualitative data (not just 2 observations a year)! I do believe in accountability, but have reservations about 50% based on test scores. This also brings into question how special educators will be evaluated. Any thoughts….

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