Duties of the Teacher

Contributed by:
Jonathan James
Teaching is important because most teachers reach more than a thousand students during
their career as a teacher, and many reach more than ten thousand. Teachers change the world
through their students in two ways. Great teachers of the past have inspired individuals—and
even whole societies—to new and better forms of life, to great inventions, to the saving of
lives, cultures, and countries (and to their destruction), and to notable discoveries and spiritual
Michael Scriven
Evaluation & Development Group1
The old saying goes: “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” The list of duties in this
paper gives the lie to that view by spelling out just how hard teaching is. It shows that the real
truth, while less catchy, is more like this: “Those who can do these hundred difficult things can
teach well; those who can teach well can change the world in their lifetime; those who can’t,
can rarely do something as important.”
Teaching is important because most teachers reach more than a thousand students during
their career as a teacher, and many reach more than ten thousand. Teachers change the world
through their students in two ways. Great teachers of the past have inspired individuals—and
even whole societies—to new and better forms of life, to great inventions, to the saving of
lives, cultures, and countries (and to their destruction), and to notable discoveries and spiritual
revolutions. There are many cases where specific teachers have been identified as providing
the inspiration or the suggestions that led to these results. Famous examples include Socrates,
the teacher of Plato; Aristotle, the teacher of Alexander the Great; and Brentano, who was
Freud’s teacher. On the grand scale, the teachers who began most of the great religions have
their names enshrined in the honor role or the very title of those movements—Buddhism,
Confucianism, Christianity, Mohammedanism, Marxism.
But the more common role for teachers is that of empowerment. There are myriads of teachers
whose solo or team efforts made great achievements possible that would not otherwise have
been possible. They did this by good teaching of basic or advanced knowledge, skills, or
values, to those who became inventors and leaders—the teachers of Pasteur and Einstein, of
Gandhi and Sister Teresa and Simone de Beauvoir. That situation is very acute today, when
there is more to be learnt than ever before; survival of the individual and of the society is more
This is a slightly revised version of the paper published in the Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education (1994) vol. 8, no. 2, pp.
151–184. Thanks to the many people who have made useful suggestions about earlier versions of this paper, particularly to those in my
Study of Teaching graduate seminars at the University of Western Australia, 1987-8, and to my research staff on this project in 1991-4,
Patricia Wheeler and Geneva Haertel. Their valuable suggestions resulted in many changes. Further criticisms and suggestions—for
additions, deletions, or modifications—are earnestly solicited and should be sent to the author at POBox 69, Point Reyes, California,
94956. This work was partly supported by funding from the Teacher Evaluation Models Project (TEMP), a component of the work at the
Center for Research on Educational Accountability and Teacher Evaluation (CREATE). CREATE is federally funded by the Office of
Educational Research and Improvement of the U.S. Education Department, and is located in the Evaluation Center at Western Michigan
University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008.
duties of the teacher: scriven page 1 version date: Dec 8, 1994
2. than ever dependent on education to cope with technology and contribute to it. But even with
respect to the basics, the mere teaching of literacy is enough to put a student in the top half of the U.S.
population when it comes to competition for jobs.
So, besides teaching minimum competences, which alone are enough to control the quality of
life for many, and besides teaching technical or scientific skills which open whole careers to
others, there are other key matters to be taught. In every class there are potential leaders,
inventors, heroes, authors, and saviors of many others, students whose potentiality cannot
possibly manifest itself without—depending on the individual—an understanding of our
complex and diverse society, or a repertoire of social skills, or work and study skills, or critical
thinking ability, or an understanding of how to analyze ethical problems—whatever ethical
premises they bring to bear. Much of these they will never pick up if they do not pick them up
in school—or pick up the prerequisites for them.
Moreover, the particular contributions of those students may never flower without something
else, something that can only come from the teacher—strong encouragement to believe that
such achievements are possible and an appreciation of the first budding of talent or mastery.
Empowering is not just a matter of cognitive transfer but of a change in the interests and
motivation of students. Teachers usually have a good sense of this—it is one of the great riches
of the role—but it is not sufficiently stressed in analytical discussions of teaching and how
teaching achievements should be developed, improved, and evaluated.
Thus creating great leaders and contributors, even creating disciples for a great movement, is
only the star side of the teacher’s role. For almost every student, many of their teachers—at
one point or another in the student’s education—have in their power the chance of creating or
enriching a full and rewarding life, a life of worthwhile doing and giving. The sum of all those
effects, produced by the good teachers who rise to that challenge, adds up to most of the trace
that teachers leave behind, their footprints in the sands of time. No-one except full-time
parents—and many students lack that luxury—has a greater chance to leave a larger mark on
the next generation.
The aphorism “Those who can, do, those who can’t, teach” is uttered both as a cynical account
of how things are, and as a basis for advice about career choice. To the extent that it true as a
description of the status quo, and to the extent that it is influential as advice, it symbolizes an
attitude to teaching and learning which has brought great countries and empires to their
knees—and will again. The stark truth is that unless teachers teach well, the country in which
they teach has no future. And unless its citizens have a way to recognize those who teach
well—and use it—they have no control over that future.
There have been surprisingly few serious attempts to clarify the long list of expectations from
a teacher—or even to spell out why the classroom process of teaching is only part of what a
teacher has to do, although the most important part. Yet spelling out those expectations is an
essential prerequisite for understanding what it takes to be, to become, and to identify, a good
teacher, and hence it is a prerequisite to obtaining for good teachers some of the respect and
rewards they deserve. When such a list is developed, we find it to be a formidable inventory of
skills, and we come to understand why few people master them all. And we come to
understand other things about teaching. For example, we come to see how it is that, even
though great teachers are among the most talented professionals in the entire world of work,
their talents usually make them outstanding only for some quite limited combination of
school, students, and subject matter. The great college teacher would rarely if ever make a
great kindergarten teacher—and vice versa.
This list is not just an inventory of remote ideals relevant only to the stars of the profession. It
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3. specifies the areas where most people think a certain minimum competence is required to
discharge a teacher’s obligations. Roughly speaking these are: (i) subject matter knowledge, (ii)
instructional skill, (iii) assessment skill, (iv) professionalism, and typically (v) a small set of
other, relatively secondary, ‘other duties’ to the school or community, such as school
committee work, monitoring the lunch room, or addressing community meetings. In each of
these domains, the DOTT (Duties of the Teacher) list identifies several elements (sub-areas),
for a total of 15 across all areas; many of these have sub-elements under them (a total of 15
more); beyond that are many detailed requirements in the text which move the total
distinguishable requirements over the hundred mark2.
Performance that is satisfactory on most but not all of these is required in order to be at the
level of a competent teacher3. This is a considerable achievement in most school contexts, but it
is one that can be achieved by many people who diligently develop their training, knowledge,
natural talents, and experience. Performing well on most of these dimensions (and competently
on the others) is what it takes to be a more-than-merely-competent teacher—to be what we
usually call a good teacher. The outstanding teacher reaches the highest standards in several
categories, and does well on the others. Doing as well as that is a goal towards which we
teachers should not only aspire, but towards which we can all make significant progress.
Some people find it inappropriate to attempt to ‘reduce’ the subtleties of good teaching to a
checklist. Of course, one can’t do that, any more than one can reduce the subtleties of musical
composition to a text on the subject. But that doesn’t mean there’s something improper about
trying to ‘reduce’ a melody to musical notation, or to ‘reduce’ the essence of good health to the
content of the textbooks used in medical school, i.e., to set it out in language that everyone can
read. The process of analysis is not a ‘reduction’ in an objectionable sense, it is a first step
towards understanding something complex. Moreover, the history of protecting civil rights—
and here that means the rights of children as well as teachers and parents—absolutely requires
spelling out contracts and liabilities, so that neither employers nor employees can place their
own variable interpretations on vague generalities. What protection does a teacher who cannot
appeal to a DOTT list have against a principal, perhaps a new principal, who simply doesn’t
like the way that he or she teaches?
Again, what road map should a teacher use in developing a systematic approach to pro-
fessional development? What blueprint should a teacher college use to decide what to put into
the curriculum? How can we tell students thinking about teaching as a career just what it
involves? What can we offer the media to explain why teaching isn’t what you do if you can’t
do anything else? The justification for a duties list is that it helps answer these important
questions—and many others.
When teaching positions are advertised, or even when a job description is written, only the dis-
tinguishing features of the job are mentioned, that is, the features which distinguish it from the job
of other teachers, e.g., “teaching upper secondary mathematics”. That’s only the tip of the
The entirely independent study by ETS which led to the Praxis teacher evaluation package identified 113 tasks.
Exactly which ones are necessary and which are to be regarded as merely desirable is partly a matter for negotiation in the light of the
supply of qualified personnel and the commitment to quality by the administration, the school board, the community, and the teachers’
organization. But, as with functional literacy, it’s also partly a matter of objective necessity about the meaning of the terms. No one can
negotiate away the necessity to be able to do most of these things to meet the basic semantic requirements for applying the term
“competent (or good) teacher”.
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4. iceberg, although it’s the most important part. The list provided here—the DOTT list—
describes the whole of the iceberg, the generic duties of teaching, but at a more general level
than the job description. Most of these duties are not stated explicitly in the usual process of
enrolling, training, and hiring teachers, but are simply implicit in the social context of teaching.
These are the duties common to all teaching jobs: they define the profession of teaching, and
distinguish it from the work of other professions. For example, the teacher has the task of
maintenance of order in the classroom, whether teaching in a particular inner-city school, or in
a strict military school. That’s part of the generic duties of the teacher, and it doesn’t show up
in a job description—it’s presupposed. It does show up in the DOTT list (as part of the group
of instructional skills).
So the DOTT list is much more comprehensive than the job description, and the job description
is more specific than the DOTT list. But even the job description is still not very specific about
exactly what will count as satisfactory maintenance of order (or for that matter exactly what
will count as satisfactory teaching of mathematics). Deciding on that is part of what we’ll call
the site-level interpretation of the duties. This interpretation is usually done by an on-site
evaluator—often a principal or a department chair. In the (usual) absence of the DOTT, and in
the absence of highly effective training, this is a largely judgmental process of applying to the
particular case what the evaluator thinks are the general duties of a teacher, plus what s/he
thinks is the proper interpretation of the job description, plus whatever s/he thinks are the site-
specific “other duties”.
The on-site evaluators should be well trained in evaluating all the dimensions of performance
referred to in the DOTT and the job description, and should be regularly retested. Otherwise,
there is certain to be considerable difference between their interpretations at different sites,
which means inequity. Furthermore, the particular biases of individual evaluators towards
particular teachers, whom they usually know well, will have more play when thorough
training is lacking. And there may also be a ‘baseline bias’ to the evaluators’ ratings—they may
all be too near the bottom end (or the top end) of a reasonable interpretation of the DOTT.4
Just as the DOTT refers generically to teaching some subject matter—and the job description
spells out what that is to be—the DOTT also refers to “other duties” which will vary from state
to state and site to site. These include such obligations as school bus duties, attendance at
church services in a religious school—or they may be state-required duties (a much longer list
is given at the relevant point in the checklist below). Schools should try to spell out such duties
in writing—and the justification for them—as early as when sending materials to interested
inquirers and certainly when interviewing candidates. Specific interpretation of what these
amount to in practice eventually depends on the site evaluator, but it can be made much
clearer than is commonly the case. Spelling these out avoids misunderstanding and injustice
just as spelling out the generic duties of the teacher does.
Thus the job-specific duties include: (i) satisfactory performance in the specialty teaching area
and/or grade level of the job, as defined in the job description (e.g., lower elementary); (ii) the
specific, practical-level, interpretation of the generic duties, as made (or as it should have been
made) by the on-site evaluator(s); and (iii) the other site-specific duties, as mentioned in the
Administrator pressure often causes teachers to use a baseline bias towards overgrading their students, due to the administration not
wanting to face the complaints from parents when too many D and F grades are given out. In a recent Virginia case, an algebra teacher
was fired because she refused to increase the grades for students who were in fact doing badly in algebra. The rationalization used by the
adminstration was that the students were being discouraged by this ‘negative reinforcement’, and that no-one would take algebra if it were
allowed to continue. Contrast this with Jaime Escalante’s tough grading approach in his calculus classes. Reality is tough, and if secondary
school students are insulated from that, they are being educated for a dream world rather than the real world.
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5. previous paragraph. Their relationship to other levels of duties is shown in Figure 1.
[Insert Figure 1 about here.]
Duties of Duties of Duties of
the Teacher the Doctor the Lawyer
Subject: Math Subject: Spanish Job Description
JOB-SPECIFIC Grades: 11-12 Grades: 9–10 for another
DUTIES Some coaching Some band duties teacher
SITE-SPECIFIC Interpretation Probably a third
INTERPRETAT- Interpretation interpretation by
by this principal by the principal
at a second site
DUTY principal at site 3
There are limits to what a school can put into a job description or into the Other Duties
category, or build into their ground-level interpretations. Professional integrity and ethical
considerations must be respected. For example, any policy involving 40 preparations a week, a
‘no bad grades for the mayor’s children’ grading policy, or requiring that most class time be
spent on getting the few slowest students through the state minimum competency exam, is un-
acceptable. On the upside, some districts take pride in their commitment to certain across-the
curriculum duties such as teaching about a particular ethnic tradition, and—where
appropriate for the district—these can properly be added to the list under Other Duties.
A school’s distinctive ‘philosophy’ has a place there, if consistent with professional and ethical
standards, particularly in a private school. For example, a military school’s strong disciplinary
stance—if students’ rights are not violated—can be part of the teacher/student/parent
contract, as can a non-directive approach or a religious theme. But in a public school, any
school ‘philosophy’ that involves a commitment to a single controversial approach raises se-
rious ethical and policy questions, e.g., a policy that students who are not native English
speakers must be taught by bilingual teachers in separate classrooms, or that fast learners (or
slow learners) should never be taught in separate classrooms. In general, any such
commitment will need the agreement of all those involved, not just of a school board. Of
particular importance in the evaluation of teaching is the commitment of a school to one
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6. stereotype of good teaching, for example, to an “all positive reinforcement” approach. That is
an arbitrary and narrow approach, and there is no practical need or clear advantage to
adopting a single approach.
The DOTT list was developed from an early draft by the author, revised in the light of the few
efforts in the (mostly fugitive) literature subsequently uncovered, and with the help of some
graduate seminars in educational personnel evaluation. It was then widely circulated and
revised repeatedly in the light of comments from several thousand experienced teachers,
administrators, parents, and lawyers—and students—in Australia and the USA5. Versions
were then published so as to reach a wider audience6, and repeatedly revised again in the light
of later work (especially the Praxis project at ETS), comments from readers, and most recently,
the TEMP project staff. There will still be disagreements about the list, and comments from
readers are very welcome; they will be treated most seriously. One potential source of
disagreement is discussed under the next heading in an effort to avoid a common misun-
Duties lists are not obtained by simply doing what are conventionally referred to as ‘job
analyses’. Such analyses are usually based on a time sampling of what teachers actually do, or a
survey which asks about what they believe they do, or what they or someone else (e.g., an
administrator) thinks is important amongst the things they do. None of that gets you to what
they are should be doing—i.e., can reasonably be required to do. So it is completely inap-
propriate to use job analyses as duty statements; nevertheless job analyses substantially overlap
duties statements, since there isn’t a total gap between what people do and what they should
be doing. Hence, some job analyses—notably, the one done by ETS for the Praxis project—
have been carefully studied for items that might have been overlooked here.
Two reasons why empirical surveys cannot form an ultimate basis for evaluating teachers
(which is just one of several functions of the DOTT list) are: (i) a survey will uncover many
activities that teachers have no obligation to do but do from habit or local custom or because
they are so ordered—for reasons that may be bad; and (ii) it is sure to miss or downplay many
things that teachers are obliged to do when the occasion arises, but almost never have to do,
such as helping young children in the event of a flood. Even surveys that ask about the im-
portance of various tasks, and not just about their frequency, run into a third problem: (iii)
they cannot distinguish what is seen as best practice from what is in fact required.
The DOTT list, on the other hand, is a normative list, a list of what teachers can legitimately be
held responsible for knowing and doing, something that is not related in any simple way to
what they in fact know and do7. The nearest thing to developing a list of duties is developing a
There were no apparent differences between the two countries.
The first version of this list appeared in Scriven, M. (1988) "Duty-Based Teacher Evaluation," Journal of Personnel Evaluation in
Education 1(4), 319-334. A revised version is in Scriven, M. (1988), "Evaluating Teachers as Professionals: the Duties-based Approach,"
in Teacher Evaluation: Six prescriptions for success (pp. 110-142, eds. S. J. Stanley and W. J. Popham (ASCD, 1988); the latter is
available through ERIC's document reproduction service as EDUCATION 299 683.
For example, the list is not titled "The Responsibilities of the Teacher", although that seems somewhat less moralistic, because that
language suggests a school can define nearly anything it likes as part of the "The Responsibilities of the Teacher", whereas an ethical
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7. code of professional ethics, or a system of normative ethics governing something like
psychological testing or avoiding sexual harassment in the workplace. Developing codes of
normative ethics requires a methodology substantially different from the methodology of
empirical or judgmental job analyses. (There is also some analogy with drafting legislation,
and with defining terms in current use, or rules of grammar.)
Nevertheless, the five main headings for the categories of duties in the DOTT are not too
different from what might come from a job analysis8. But the similarity with a job analysis is
superficial. As the sub-headings emerge, and then the third and fourth level headings—and
the sub-text is added to that—a great deal of interpretation, conceptualization, justification,
and classification is required, requiring us to go far beyond the descriptive process. Nor is the
process here like developing a set of theorems in geometry or the results from a survey.
Normative analysis is its own special kind of task. Some of the process, including
explanations, justifications, and elaborations, is referred to in Notes attached to some of the
detailed descriptions. Notes are also used to explain why some common inclusions in such
lists are not present in this one.
The language here is tailored to the duties of the elementary and secondary teacher, but
relatively small changes convert it to apply to college teachers, adult educators, and those
outside the standard educational system9. In a research university, there is of course a further
dimension of duties relating to the production of research.
Taking the previous discussion of uses of the list a little further, and summarizing them, the
list can be used in eight somewhat different ways.
(i) For personal or political reasons, it can be used—as mentioned in the opening
paragraph—as support for the claim that teaching is both demanding and diverse.
(ii) Two further uses that are coupled to each other are: for the person considering entry
to the profession; and
(iii) for someone recruiting entrants or applicants. In both cases we need to convey a
fairly detailed idea of what teaching involves, not rely on the impressions gathered
from prior observation of practitioners.
(iv) An important use is in designing the curriculum for teacher training institutions—
study of this list will show some notable gaps in the usual curriculum.
(v) The list is a useful guide for a teacher planning a self-development program with or
without the assistance of helpers.
(vi) The list can also be used by colleagues, mentors, or supervisors as a basis for
monitoring the progress of teachers who are interested in professional development.
element enters into the notion of duties. That ethical requirement imposes the further requirement of legitimacy, by contrast with the
preference of the employer.
We described them informally above and use that language in the profile below, although in the detailed list that comes later we use the
slightly more exact language: Knowledge of Subject Matter, Instructional Competence, Assessment Competence, Professionalism, and
Other Duties. Although it’s somewhat unusual to give Assessment full equality with the other competencies, the need to do so can be
demonstrated, in part by using needs assessment methodology.
The post-secondary version will be found in an appendix in A Consumer Guide, referenced below.
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8. (vii) It can also be used for summative purposes (i.e., to assist personnel decisions10)
e.g., by principals, personnel officers, superintendents, or school boards; and
(viii) in a court of law or arbitration hearing where a personnel decision is appealed, by
judges or juries.
The list has a special importance in connection with these last two uses because an argument
has been put forward in the literature that only a duties list can be used as a basis for personnel
evaluation decisions. This view rejects the use of all ‘style’ criteria—e.g., high frequency of
question-asking, pre-announced lesson objectives, use of eye contact—in any evaluative
checklist and from a judge’s consideration11. (According to an extension of this view, the same
conclusion applies to most types of evaluation for professional development.) To the extent
this view is correct, the DOTT list is not just the basis for one model of teacher evaluation—the
so-called Duties-Based Teacher Evaluation model (DBTE)—but the only legitimate basis for
teacher evaluation, until a better one emerges. The key implication of the DBTE approach is
that teachers can teach however they like, as long as it’s ethical and effective in imparting valuable
learning, within applicable curriculum and resource constraints.
On this view, teachers can never legitimately be evaluated on the similarity of their teaching
style to what happens statistically to be the most successful approach identified in the research
literature—or the one most favored by the principal, or by some visiting guru or evaluator. To
do that is like evaluating professional golfers by comparing their swing to that of past masters
instead of counting the strokes it takes them to get around the course. In fact it’s worse, for
every teacher who has been on the job for a decade or two can remember several changes in
the supposedly best teaching style. One does not evaluate anything worthwhile against style
except stylishness. Nor is the alternative a massive effort to use outcome-based evaluation
with state assessment results as the dependent variable, as in Tennessee. The DOTT accords a
substantial place to outcome evidence, but it can be filled very well without the massive
apparatus that is required to run a full-scale outcome-based approach. And an outcomes-only
approach is not defensible, since the teacher has other duties besides imparting learning.
Consistent with the DBTE view, the most distinctive feature of the DOTT list, by comparison
with any others in the literature, is the avoidance of all references to style criteria. This list also
avoids another common error in checklists used for teacher evaluation: it does not require that
teachers use multiple media or multiple approaches, it only requires that they be able to use
(some of) them, so that they can use them when they think it appropriate (mainly when other
approaches are not working well). It is simply an error to require that a variety be used—only
the most effective should be used—and of course classroom visits become a circus when that
requirement is on the list.
Teachers sometimes think the DOTT list is biased against them when they begin reading it,
because quite early on there’s a suggestion that some kinds of checking teacher competency on
subject matter knowledge may occasionally be legitimate. They usually come around when
they realize that the DOTT list grants them ownership over their way of teaching, and
Evaluation done to assist personnel decisions is called summative evaluation; evaluation done to assist professional development is
called formative evaluation.
The argument for this position will be found in, for example, Scriven, M. "Can Research-Based Teacher Evaluation be Saved?", in
Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, Fall, 1990; reprinted in Research-Based Teacher Evaluation, (Kluwer, 1990).
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9. recognizes much of their work that never gets credit in other approaches to teacher evaluation.
School administrators sometimes think it’s biased against them, because it denies their right to
evaluate by reference to the style criteria which they commonly use today. Sometimes they
come around as they begin to realize that it provides a much more easily defended basis for
evaluation, and a much more professional role for the teacher that increases the teacher’s
responsibility for results.
In fact, it represents a tough ‘render unto Caesar’ position. On the one hand, it says to
administrators: Don’t micro-manage teachers unless (i) there’s a persistent and demonstrable
failure to perform a duty; (ii) there’s an emergency (e.g., violence in the classroom); or (iii)
there’s an overall failure to communicate valuable learning. (The third possibility requires that
you have gone through a serious process of evaluation with an appeal procedure.) Otherwise,
you can only make suggestions about how to do things, and you cannot fault teachers for ignoring
those suggestions. That is as true for probationers as it is for tenured teachers. The helping role
is not to be confused with the evaluating role, and if you cannot arrange for different people to
do each, you must explicitly separate the roles to the extent possible. If you do not, you are
certainly acting unethically and the risk is increasing that you will lose in court.
In short, it is not possible to establish incompetence or competence or excellence by looking at
the way a teacher performs (non-duty) procedures in the classroom, even if it’s not the way
you think is best or researchers think works best on the average—since that’s a matter of style,
and a vast range of styles works well for particular teachers in particular contexts. Teachers
have no more obligation to do things the way that on the average works best than a researcher
on the government payroll has an obligation to do things the way that on average works best.
There is a major domain of professional responsibility that administrators must recognize if
they want teachers to do the best they can for their students and take responsibility for their
own development.
On the other hand, the DBTE approach (which centers on using the DOTT list) says to
teachers: Don’t forget that you do have certain duties, e.g., maintaining a classroom en-
vironment in which all students can learn, getting through the required curriculum, knowing
the subject matter, using valid tests and scoring procedures, etc. You are accountable for what
your students did and achieved, although of course only within the (considerable) range over
which you have control. While that range varies greatly depending on the students and the
school context—so what can reasonably be expected of a teacher varies considerably—it is a
sign of irresponsibility to argue that the many factors which limit that range eliminate your
responsibility for the rest of it.
You didn’t sign on to do things the way the principal likes to see them done, when that’s just a
matter of style. But you did sign on to do a good job as a teacher, so it’s up to you to be sure
that you are successful—and preferably improving. You can do this by using serious self-
evaluation and, for objectivity, subjecting yourself to evaluation by others chosen or accepted
by you (this is one of the elements in Professionalism on the DOTT). This obligation to self-
assessment—to check on your own success—applies whether you use the approved style or a
highly unusual style, whether you are a teacher or a psychotherapist or an entrepreneur. While
you do have right to do things in the way that you judge best, the only basis for your right to
the job is success. Accountability obliges you to be able to demonstrate that success to third
parties12—not merely to your own satisfaction—just as accountability requires the principal to
make sure—and be able to demonstrate to her or his superiors that s/he is a competent
The representatives of the parents whose students are in your charge, and of those who pay you—the taxpayers or school fee payers.
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10. evaluator of teaching—and hence that you are in fact successful. In the workplace, there is no
‘presumption of success until proven unsuccessful’ for teachers (or administrators) any more
than for doctors, because others—in our case students—are at risk.
The requirement for serious self-evaluation is a heavy one, and not always recognized as part
of every professional job. It is not likely to be accepted by teachers if they are treated as
workers who are constantly being told how to do things, rather than as professionals who are
responsible for getting certain things done in the way they judge best. There’s good sense
behind the view that if administrators want to micro-manage teachers, then it is they and not
the teachers who fail, if failure occurs. Treating teachers as professionals is a two-way
business; the administrator has to relinquish control over something if she or he wants
someone to take responsibility for running it. That’s the ‘render unto Caesar’ part.
In the end, the key question about the list is not whether it favors teachers or employers, but
whether it favors children (more generally, students).
For many of the eight uses mentioned above it is helpful to generate an expandable profile from
the DOTT list. This is done by setting up a bar chart which can be unpacked at several levels of
detail. The ‘first level’ or overall chart shows the five main domains of duties for teachers as
the columns, with three or four horizontal lines separating the usual levels of performance
(e.g., Unacceptable, Needs Improvement, Satisfactory, Good, Excellent). By plotting the
performance of a particular teacher, the general areas of strength and weakness are easily seen.
We’d normally just use A, B, C, D, F as shorthand for the levels of teacher performance, but to
make matters clearer in this sample, the full translations have been added in the middle of the
relevant regions.
Figure 2 shows how the profile for one teacher might look:
duties of the teacher: scriven page 10 version date: Dec 8, 1994
Teacher: ........................................Term: .........
School: C. W. Forrester High School
Knowledge of subject s Instructional skills Assessment skills Professionalism Other
SIGNED:................................................................ NAME IN CAPS:............................................................
TEACHER SIGNS TO SIGNIFY RECEIPT AND DISCUSSION OF ABOVE:......................................................
Further comments may be attached: if done, indicate with a check here: .......
Duties of the Teacher: Fig. 2
You can see that this particular teacher shows up on the profile as falling into the Needs
Improvement region in the domain of Assessment Skill. Exactly what is the problem? To
answer that question, we might just explain what skills are unacceptably weak in a text box
below the graph, or we could expand the domain of Assessment Skill by using a second bar
duties of the teacher: scriven page 11 version date: Dec 8, 1994
12. chart to show how well that teacher is doing on the four sub-dimensions13 of Assessment
Competence (spelled out in the DOTT list below). That ‘sub-profile’ chart would be attached to
the first one, and would of course have the title Assessment Skill, instead of Overall
The expanded profile provides a more detailed indication of where improvement is needed. It
might, for example, show that the teacher does well on three of these sub-dimensions but
badly on quality of test construction. If more detail was felt to be useful, some text could be
attached, or that dimension could be unpacked in a further chart. The areas for remediation or
professional development are thus easily made as clear as necessary.
To get a specific rating on a scale, with most of the duties, requires an evaluator to apply the
generic standards to a particular case. (The evaluator may be the teacher in person, when the
DOTT list is being used for self-assessment). Thus judgmental standards of quality come in at the
site level, in the process of applying the DOTT list. Keeping them reasonably similar from site
to site requires specific training of the site evaluators, usually the principals. It can also be
assisted by spelling out the standards as much as possible, in a personnel handbook for the
district; this process could be improved by the use of an accompanying video. The graph thus
represents the result of applying both the generic and the job-specific standards by means of
these site-specific judgments.
Besides site-specific judgments that are made in the course of applying the standards, there are
also judgments to be made about what the generic standards are to be. In the usual system of
government schools in the U.S., this means that district- or state-level judgments have to be
made prior to the adoption of a generic duties list by any district or state. This might be done
by acceptance or modification of the DOTT list or of the Praxis list, or of some other source.
For example, the district might decide that they will require all teachers in the district to be
bilingual in Spanish by a certain date; or they might think that the DOTT list requires more
knowledge of testing than they judge to be necessary, and delete one or two sentences. In the
case of an autonomous private school, the corresponding process would require the governing
board to make a decision about setting standards at the generic level. In the private school
case, this would be a site-specific judgment, but it does not replace the need for the site-specific
application/interpretation judgments that the headmaster or headmistress will have to make
in each particular case of evaluating a teacher.
So far, we’ve been talking about quality standards in teacher evaluation at the job-specific and
the generic levels. There is a higher level in the organization to which standards apply—the
system level. This is the most general level—the system standards control the way a system of
teacher evaluation is set up and run: they will include such matters as whether there is an appeal
process, whether the cost of the system is feasible, etc. They have been addressed in some
detail in the well-known reference work, The Personnel Evaluation Standards (Sage, 1988).
The four main dimensions of those standards are Accuracy, Feasibility, Propriety, and Utility.
They are as applicable to the evaluation of administrators or coaches or janitors as to teachers,
so they are profession-independent, in fact vocation-independent. These supervene on the first
diagram above the level of the generic standards, and might be thought of as system standards.
These are sometimes called elements—see Teacher Evaluation Glossary by Wheeler, Haertel and Scriven, published by CREATE in
duties of the teacher: scriven page 12 version date: Dec 8, 1994
13. To recapitulate, then. At the ‘ground level’ (or ‘coal face’) in the evaluation of teaching there
are the judgmental standards—the interpretations or translations of the higher standards. At
the next level up are the site-specific standards (teach mathematics, supervise the lunch room);
then there are the generic standards, which define the profession itself (communicate, maintain
order, test, etc.); and at the top level there are the system standards. The standards at each level
have to be met independently—having clear generic standards does not ensure that the system
in which they are embedded meets system standards, nor does it ensure that the site-specific
standards will be defensible; and none of the above ensure the quality of the judgmental
standards, i.e., the standards as interpreted by the site administrators at the ground level.
Generally, the standards at a given level are implementations (more specific applications or
instantiations) of standards at a higher level; always, the higher level ones control the lower
ones. Under challenge, therefore, it is not only necessary to be able to show that any given
standard is consistent with standards at the next level up but it is generally desirable to show
that it is an implementation of a higher level standard (e.g., teaching mathematics is an
implementation of teaching). The higher level standards naturally include some that refer to
matters that go beyond those considered at the next more specific level: the system standards,
for example, are somewhat further-reaching than the generic standards, since they refer to
such matters as appeal procedures (which are not one of the duties of the teacher).
So far, we have been talking about the relation between standards by level of generality. Now we
come to the specification of standards at a given level, by level of quality. At the generic level of
the DOTT list there is a range of language to express the several quality standards (sometimes
referred to as “performance standards”). In the following list, the term we’ll normally use is
distinguished by initial capitals. The levels of acceptable performance are: (i) Satisfactory, the
level of minimum competence, often referred to as “Acceptable” or less often as “Adequate”;
(ii) Good (often called “Superior”); and (iii) Excellent (sometimes referred to as “Outstanding”
or “Master level”).
Reference to the first acceptable quality level—Satisfactory—is usually indicated in the DOTT
by the use of phrasing like “The teacher must be able to...”, by contrast with the second level,
Good, where the phrasing refers to what the teacher should be able to do. (The difference
between these two levels is also a matter of how many exceptions are allowed within a
category.) Reference to the third level, Excellent, is intended when comments are introduced
by language like “It is desirable (preferable, ideal) if...”, and of course excellence is manifested
by higher achievement levels on more dimensions and sub-dimensions, with fewer weak spots
and few or no extremely weak spots. Where no specific distinguishing language is used, the
levels are to be taken as a sequence of points on a continuum that are to be specified in the
process of setting job-specific standards. That process is one of the key places where
interpretation comes in at the generic level. Of course, interpretation always comes in at the
ground level.
The details of setting the levels of quality need to be implemented at a fairly local level—
usually at the district level, for two reasons. First, the interpretation at the ground level needs
to be closely supervised, and state capitals are too far away for that; second, there is at least
one other local standard that has to be fitted into the ones described. This is the minimum
employable standard. It must be, to some extent, a matter of local preferences and the supply of
applicants. If it is necessary to appoint people who do not yet meet minimum professional
standards, as indicated by the duties list, a process of professional development is then urgent
and the initial appointment should always be probationary.
WEIGHTING THE DUTIES The five domains of duty listed here are often thought to have
duties of the teacher: scriven page 13 version date: Dec 8, 1994
14. different degrees of importance. Some teachers, for example, think it’s clear that the last
category (“Other Duties to the School and Community” which covers committee work, parent
communications, some supervision of student activities outside the classroom, community
service where expected, etc.) is not as important as Instructional Competence. However, it’s
clear that most schools can’t run unless this last category of duties is performed, and they do
not run well if it is performed badly. So it seems a little misleading to treat it as any less
important than the other categories of performance about which one can say no more than that
they, too, are really essential. The best solution is to distinguish between the necessity and the
importance of domains, and to treat all five domains as necessary. It turns out that for most
purposes one does not have to get into differential weighting.
Now, it is highly desirable to avoid differential weighting, if possible, since the validity of such
weights is hard to establish, and even if it can be satisfactorily settled, there remains the
problem of setting an acceptable minimum overall score. It is easier and more directly relevant
to accept the need for teachers to achieve a minimum level of performance in each category in
order to be judged Satisfactory, as is suggested here. (And similarly for Good and Excellent.)
One may wish to amplify this requirement by requiring satisfactory levels of performance on
specific items in the sub-levels. Then one may wish to make a similar determination for higher
achievement levels: for example, in order to be classified as exhibiting Outstanding
performance, one might say that a Good (rather than Satisfactory) level has to be achieved on
three (or four) of the five dimensions. And one should decide whether this higher level must be
met on any specific dimensions, or just on any three (or four) of the five. Thus, the DOTT is an
instrument which a district or school can fine-tune to suit their own sense of what is
appropriate for different teaching performance levels, without deciding on relative
importance; this is part of the interpretation or judgmental process at the generic level rather than at
the ground level. (In the first diagram in this paper, it is assumed that this has already
occurred, and hence what is there described as generic duties has been tailored to the local
needs by these judgmental decisions.)
For special teaching awards, for promotions, or for merit pay increases when these are limited
in number, one does need a ranking of candidates, and one might think it is necessary to
decide on a comparative weighting of the dimensions against each other in order to achieve
this. But in fact candidates can often be ranked quite clearly according to the number of Good
and Excellent ratings they achieve. If weighting is required to settle ties, the best bet is to
weight all five dimensions as equally important. One thus avoids the complaints by advocates
of whichever ones are down-graded, and as mentioned it is very hard to give technically
sound arguments for differential weighting.
It is, however, not a matter of equal difficulty to achieve an acceptable level of performance in
each of these categories. The difficulty varies with the person and the school, of course, but we
have ample evidence that many people, even well-educated adults with strong motivation, are
simply incapable of ever achieving a satisfactory level of instructional effectiveness in a
particular school context. This should be no more surprising than the obvious fact that other
well-educated adults, no matter how hard they try, cannot achieve an adequate grasp of vector
calculus or spoken Japanese. And it has no more bearing on someone’s value as a person than
those other limitations imply. Rewards and jobs are, for good reason, not best given for effort
or virtue alone, only for achievement.
DETERMINING PERFORMANCE In determining performance, the general principle that
one should, wherever possible, use multiple methods and multiple sources should be kept in
mind. It is for the most part obvious what kind of evidence—and from what sources—is
duties of the teacher: scriven page 14 version date: Dec 8, 1994
15. required to establish a teacher’s level of achievement. It may be worth noting that we recom-
mend the use of four relatively understressed sources of data, in addition to the usual ones: (i)
a teacher’s own portfolio (constructed according to some guidelines); (ii) clear evidence of
subject-matter competence/excellence (even at the kindergarten and early primary level); (iii)
student ratings of instruction; and (iv) a random sample of student papers or project work,
along with the associated tests, grades, and comments provided to the students as feedback14.
It should also be remembered, as stressed above, that the duties as described in DOTT are
often not specific enough to avoid the necessity for judgment by some of the evaluators (at
what we have called the ground level). At that level, we need to develop further written
materials and train whoever will be doing the evaluating by using supervision of their
evaluation procedures and/or videotapes. The National Board effort and the Praxis project are
undertaking that, at a cost of millions; it is far beyond CREATE’s resources. The key question
about their undertakings are whether they are based on a sound generic set of standards. The
following list is put forward as a candidate for that status.
A. In the fields of special competence
B. In across-the-curriculum subjects
A. Communication skills
B. Management skills
i. Management of process
ii. Management of progress
iii. Management of emergencies
C. Course construction and improvement skills
i. Course planning
ii. Selection and creation of materials
iii. Use of available resources (a. Local; b. Media; c. Specialists)
iv. Evaluation of course, teaching, materials, and curriculum
A. Knowledge about student assessment
B. Test construction/administration skills
C. Grading/ranking/scoring practices
i. Process
ii. Output
D. Recording and reporting student achievement
i. Knowledge about reporting achievement
More details are provided in the the publications of the TEMP project, and a forthcoming volume Teacher Evaluation: A Consumer's
Guide (Corwin, 1993)
duties of the teacher: scriven page 15 version date: Dec 8, 1994
16. ii. Reporting process (To: a. Students; b. Administrators; c. Parents; d. Others)
A. Professional ethics
B. Professional attitude
C. Professional development
D. Service to the profession
i. Knowledge about the profession
ii. Helping beginners and peers
iii. Work for professional organizations
iv. Research on teaching
E. Knowledge of duties
F. Knowledge of the school and its context
A. In fields of special competence
Knowledge about the topics covered in the curriculum must be current, correct, and
comprehensive, to the degree appropriate to the grade level. It must be at least enough to
ensure that appropriate materials for covering an appropriate curriculum can be: (i) selected or
prepared; (ii) explained; (iii) such that student understanding of them can be appropriately
assessed; and (iv) such that most student questions can be answered correctly. When questions
cannot be answered, as must certainly be expected with respect to specialized high school
projects, it must be known where answers can be found by the teacher, typically in time for the
next class. This requirement of ‘resource awareness’ should include more than knowledge of
reference works and libraries—it should extend to local experts, art galleries, etc., and perhaps
to online resources.
NOTE 1: Suggested educational backgrounds for good subject matter competence are: for
high school teachers—two years of successful college study of each subject taught (not
including ‘methods’ courses); for elementary teachers—one year of such study. A degree with
a major in the (substantive, not methods) subject should be required where teaching of college
preparatory courses is involved.
NOTE 2. Requiring some kind of evidence of continuing competence in subject matter at
regular intervals (perhaps every four or five years) is a reasonable expectation by the
employer, since: (i) even for recent graduates, completion of an accredited training program—
or licensing on some other basis—is often not a reliable indicator of appropriate subject matter
competence; (ii) for mid-career teachers, some knowledge and skills are likely to have evapo-
rated or become outdated; (iii) other knowledge often needs to be added to that covered in
college when teachers went through—it may represent a large part of the curriculum (e.g. in
earth science, social studies, and general biology) and sometimes represents most of it (e.g.
computer studies); (iv) updating is a crucial dimension of continuing professional
development as well as accountability; and (v) the ‘paper trail’ from such tests provide an
objective record of progress. This requirement of testing continuing competence may mean
taking (or giving) teacher competency tests in subject matter areas, or using other measures
duties of the teacher: scriven page 16 version date: Dec 8, 1994
17. such as recent college course grades in subject matter areas. The society suffers severely
because most doctors and lawyers do not take any such tests, and we should not impose the
same costs on our children.
B. In across-the-curriculum subjects
These subjects are often taken to include some or all of: communication skills (reading, literate
and legible writing, listening, speaking), study skills (including note-taking, perseverance, and
the discipline to do unsupervised homework), personal/social and vocational skills (including
time-management, and self-assessment), basic computer skills, internet and database search
skills, ecological literacy, and critical thinking. While only a minimum level of competence in
these is normally required for teaching them, even that can reasonably be taken to include a
college level of literacy in writing, speaking, listening, and editing (including the ‘proof-
reading’ ability to recognize—and correct—nearly all spelling, punctuation and grammatical
errors of the kind that students are likely to make). A good teacher will normally add a modest
competence in the use of computers in the classroom and in the school; a commitment to
making students better and keener learners and not just more learned; and a concern to help
them develop inquiry and survival skills, not just memorization.
NOTE. Some of these areas have been added to the obligations of teachers quite recently. With
or without adequate pre- or in-service training, they—and other duties in the list below and
above—often become part of the explicit obligations of the teacher through the process of
social change, sometimes without serious explicit negotiation. This is a normal part of the
obligation of professionals to keep up with changes in their field. To some extent that
obligation covers the mastery of new areas, but negotiation as to the speed of—and the
support provided for—the effort is normally appropriate when the additions are substantial.
Of course, it is and should be recognized as a path to excellence in career development if
teachers take a special interest in one or more of these areas and develop their knowledge and
performance levels well above the middle levels of competency that are expected of a good
A. Communication skills
The teacher must be able to communicate valuable learning to students of the age and ability
range that will be encountered in the place of employment. Valuable learning includes:
information, explanations, evaluations, justifications, expectations, directions, skills,
approaches, and attitudes. Success in communication requires effectiveness in presentation (at
least the use of appropriate vocabulary, examples, clearly audible speech, clearly legible chalk-
board or overhead writing), sensitivity to the level of listener comprehension (confirmed by
appropriate questioning, observing, and testing), and skill in the creation, maintenance and
rekindling of attention with fresh examples and illustrations. Even good teachers must often
renew their efforts to make the material fresh and interesting to all parties. Excellent teachers
are notable for their ability to be inspiring or exciting as well as being impressively effective
communicators. (Being inspiring and exciting is not a matter of putting on a show, but a
matter of the long-term, perhaps entirely private, effects on the student—possibly manifested
as a change in attitude to reading or mathematics or biology, or school, or a vocation.) The task
of teaching requires communication for retention—not just being understood but being
remembered—an achievement aided by overlearning and individualization, and by the
creation of memorable materials and examples.
duties of the teacher: scriven page 17 version date: Dec 8, 1994
18. Communication skills are also required with respect to peers and parents, supervisors, and
sometimes community groups. Imagination and creativity can illuminate the presentation
process and should be valued, as should the ability to make students enjoy learning, but none
of these is a substitute for success with straightforward communication of essential learning,
and any teacher evaluation system should be careful to avoid scoring for the show rather than
the outcomes.
NOTE 1: Knowledge of the needs, talents, and learning styles of special groups that may be
encountered is important, including the hearing- and sight-impaired, physically disabled,
emotionally handicapped, local ethnic groups, males/females, non-native speakers, fast and
slow learners. While acquiring skill in a second language to improve communication cannot be
generally required, even where it would be extremely useful, it is one sign of high professional
commitment and a step on the road to excellence.
NOTE 2. Some general knowledge of psychological development may be useful to the extent
that is directly and obviously assists with the duties of communication and the choice or
construction of appropriate materials. However, since individual students develop at very
different rates, and are at very different points in their development at a given age,
developmental approaches involve a substantial risk of stereotyping. In any case, knowledge
of developmental psychology is no substitute for directly obtained knowledge of what the
particular students in one’s class can and could do.
NOTE 3. Raising the students’ motivational level is properly taken to be part of being a
successful communicator—but only within limits. Certainly, providing motivation cannot be
treated by the teacher as simply the obligation of the student, parent, and/or counselor; but
nor can its absence be treated as simply the fault of the teacher. The question is whether s/he
has appropriate motivational skills and has used them appropriately. Inspiring students to
break through to whole new levels of performance is a mark of a great teacher which is only
an inspiration to—rather than a requirement on—all teachers. But there are certainly some
students in some contexts where the failure to motivate is no more the teachers’ fault than a
heat wave, just as there are some teachers who think that speaking to the students about
material the teacher knows (or, these days, just setting problems, and offering help with
solving them) discharges their responsibility.
NOTE 4. The bridge between knowing a field and being able to teach it is now often said to
involve what is called ‘pedagogical content knowledge’; roughly, knowing how to represent
the field for learners. It’s both more and less than standard academic knowledge about the
field. We are a long way from being able to give details about this yet, so it goes into the
category of a field where the teacher engaged in professional development will be keeping an
eye in the field: it should not form part of the requirements imposed by a supervisor, let alone
an evaluator.
NOTE 5. In communicating learning, individual feedback is often as important as general
remarks, and the way it is done involves considerable skill. It may be done in writing (perhaps
as comments on assignments) or by means of verbal comments, and the latter may be in
private or in a group. Negative and positive reinforcement are both defensible, at times, but
there are unfair and unkind ways of communicating with individuals that should be avoided.
B. Management skills
(i) Management of process
Teachers must have the ability to control classroom behavior so that learning is readily
possible—and can be assisted—for all students at all times, while preserving principles of
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19. justice and avoiding excessively repressive conditions. If this cannot be done, the fault may lie
with the administration, or the community, or the students—or a combination—not with the
teacher; but that has to be proved, e.g., by the failure of other teachers, known to be excellent
and experienced—it cannot be assumed. Justice requires making clear what the rules,
requirements, and penalties are in any areas where penalties may be incurred—and enforcing
the rules and penalties consistently. It is a mark of a good teacher that s/he is able—in many
classrooms—to extend discipline to the maintenance of courtesy as well as the prevention of
overt disobedience. Classroom control abilities should include the abilities: (a) to cope with
two or three markedly different ability levels in the same room; (b) to manage two or three
different instructional units simultaneously; and (c) to use a range of class modes including:
seatwork and homework; one-on-one, whole-class and small-group discussions; questioning,
question-answering, and question-stimulating; project work; and listening. Question-
management includes: (a) the ability to encourage and deal with student inquiries in such a
way as to encourage the inquirer to further exploration, as well as (b) the ability to cut students
off when appropriate, and (c) the ability to ask questions in such as way as to maintain the
involvement of the whole class during and after the first student’s response. The ability to
tutor effectively outside the classroom should also be in the teacher’s repertoire. The teacher
must also know when to call for assistance—and must do so when appropriate. When
assistance in the form of volunteers or paraprofessionals is available for extended periods,
management of these resources must be effective, efficient, and fair. A key to understanding
the importance of classroom control is the recognition that its absence leads to disruption in
the rest of the school, either through noise impact or through the grapevine or student transfer
to other classes; and it leads to severe penalties for the ‘innocent bystanders’, the students who
are willing but unable to learn because disruption is occurring in or near their classroom. Thus
disciplinary control is rightly considered a minimum necessary condition for teacher
competence. But a quiet classroom is not necessarily a learning classroom, and evaluation
systems that reward quietness as such are seriously flawed—quietness is only a means to an
end. Appropriate discipline must also be maintained outside the classroom when the teacher is
in charge of non-classroom school activity, for example hall duty, lunchroom or playground
supervision, on an excursion, or in recreational activities.
(ii) Management of progress
Beyond discipline is the need to cover the requited or designed curriculum content with the
appropriate level of student understanding. This is management of learning progress—
achievement management—rather than management of classroom process, usually referred to as
discipline. In progress management the requirement of efficiency in presentation becomes
important, something which goes beyond the effectiveness mentioned under communication
skills, or the maintenance of the prerequisites for progress that is covered by discipline. Progress
management is time-management in the classroom. It has a micro- and a macro- level. At the
micro-level, which focuses on individual students, it is desirable and arguably essential to
have the ability to ensure high time-on-task (engaged time). The macro level skill, which is
concerned with getting the whole class moved through the syllabus, is also facilitated by, but
different from, high time-on-task; the latter is one way to get more done, but the former—the
essential duty—gets done what has to be done. Time-on-task is aimed at efficiency in the use of
the minutes in the class hour; overall achievement requires efficient management of the
progress of learning through the complete set of class hours, and it includes topic selection,
time-on-topic allocation, and test and assignment spacing. For some teachers, getting through
the curriculum—with an appropriate level of learning—may be best facilitated in conjunction
with relatively low time-on-task; only the former is a duty. Managing progress as well as
duties of the teacher: scriven page 19 version date: Dec 8, 1994
20. discipline for several groups working on different materials and at different rates is often seen
as the most difficult aspect of contemporary teaching; it was, however, the standard situation
in the one-room schoolhouse, and there is some evidence that graduates from such schools
were as well educated as those from large schools.
NOTE: The ability to engender motivation to learn is at least as desirable for progress as the
ability to achieve high time-on-task, and for some teachers it is stylistically incompatible with
high time-on-task pressure. Moreover, the value and durability of what is learnt is more
important than teaching with maximum efficiency; hence, even if what has just been said
appears to point in another direction, the teacher must not be overly constrained by planning,
and must look for and work with ‘targets of opportunity’ which may come from external news
items or unexpected student reactions. Use of this strategy often provides large gains in
learning and motivation. Management of progress also involves out-of-class tasks for the
teacher and/or the student, such as counseling, setting the appropriate amount of homework
at the appropriate time, and correcting/returning it with appropriate speed.
(iii) Management of emergencies
Teachers have moral as well as legal responsibility for preventing disasters that they can
prevent by using reasonable care, and for coping with them to the extent reasonably possible if
they do occur. Reasonable care often involves some advance planning and practice. Whether
or not administrators discharge their responsibilities to arrange fire drills, for example,
teachers should train students in getting out and clear of the building. More generally they
should know what to do in the event of any of the following that is a significant possibility in
their area: (a) fire; (b) flood, (c) tornado/typhoon/hurricane; (d) earthquake; (e) volcanic
eruption; (f) blizzard; (g) civil disorder (fights, riots, bombs, tear gas, mob, or strikers entering
the classroom); (h) violence in the classroom, including the use of guns and knives; (i) trauma,
notably fractures, snakebite (or spider or scorpion bite), stab or gunshot wounds, burns,
electrocution, choking, gas- or chemical poisoning and seizures; (j) other medical emergencies,
such as severe bleeding and shock. (Six of the first eight have occurred within the last decade
in a number of metropolitan school districts around the globe.) Certain classes, such as lab and
workshop classes, involve further well-known risks and require appropriate knowledge of
treatment and preventive procedures. Field trips or overnight stays introduce increased risk of
additional hazards such as shark bite, jellyfish stings, toxic plant effects, and drowning. Being
in charge of these entails the duty of mastering aquatic life-saving and CPR (cardiopulmonary
resuscitation) techniques, treatment of fractures and hypothermia, and the identification of
poisonous plants, snakes, spiders, etc. (The non-existence of training in a basic set of these
coping skills in the usual preservice and inservice curricula is a serious deficiency.)
C. Course construction and improvement skills
(i) Course planning
The teacher should be able to develop course plans from a knowledge of: (a) the subject; (b)
local curriculum and assessment regulations; (c) student ability/achievement levels in the
classes taught; (d) student and societal needs; and (e) available resources. This usually requires
knowledge about the needs and abilities of special groups, but always requires knowledge of
the achievement level of the students; getting this will often require the use of testing (see
below). In some communities, the teacher may have to develop a complete course curriculum,
but this would be exceptional below the college level, and should not be expected there in
most countries. However, it should be expected that sub-areas of almost any curriculum will
often require the development of new or revised coverage by the teacher.
duties of the teacher: scriven page 20 version date: Dec 8, 1994
21. Course plans may include a list of instructional objectives and activities—and this may be
required of probationers—but an experienced teacher may simply list topics for coverage
during the current term (a course outline). These may be supplemented with notes on project,
lab, shop, library, homework, test and field trip or internships, and a time-line, at an
appropriate level of difficulty for each class or sub-group. The point reached on a given day
must be indicated in the course plan, so as to facilitate the task of a competent substitute
teacher and the need for inspection by a supervisor. Versions of these plans may be provided
to the class, if this is helpful rather than inhibitive of note-taking practice, inquiry skill
development, and creative opportunism in the choice of topics. Course design should be
aimed at maximizing the potential of each student, within the framework of overall student
load and the resources available; hence, for mixed-ability classes, it will normally include
classwork and homework assignments at more that one level. High priorities in instructional
design should normally be given to developing skills in investigation, critical and creative
thinking and autonomous position-taking in each subject. The teacher’s skills should include
the ability to determine and deal with the hidden curriculum—of the subject materials and of
the school (e.g., implicit value assumptions)—as well as the given curriculum, and to help
students understand the relation of their education and achievements to society and to their
own futures. It is essential that the teacher be able to make or deal with changes in the cur-
riculum due to external decisions, local conditions, and the march of events and knowledge.
NOTE 1. No requirement is included here for detailed lesson plans (behavioral objectives,
activities in ten-minute segments, etc.). Although these can be useful devices, especially for
beginning teachers, many experienced teachers regard them as not merely unnecessary but as
anathema. If required universally, they would cost a system good teachers, and if not enforced
universally, they are unusable for reward or retribution. They should be seen as part of
preservice education and of some remediation, but not as indicators of merit in a teacher. They
are simply a component in one style which can work well, but not of all good styles. Detailed
lesson plans of this kind are not required by substitutes, who frequently ignore them even
when they are provided; but substitutes must at least be provided with a list of topics, marked
to indicate which have been covered.
NOTE 2. No requirement to maintain displays of student work is included, since doing so is
simply a style as well as a burden.
NOTE 3. The testing mandated by the school or state is often unsatisfactory in providing the
teacher with information about each student’s level of academic performance, particularly on
across-the-curriculum subjects like literacy. Lesson plans make little sense if based on
ignorance about student abilities/achievements. So teachers often need to do their own testing
in order to be in a position to teach properly. The evidence now suggests that half the high
school (and adult) population is functionally illiterate to a significant degree. Teachers must
know just how many of their students are in this situation, in order to design coursework and
avoid ‘teaching past the problem’.
(ii) Selection and creation of materials
(Applies to the extent that the teacher is allowed or required to select, modify, and supplement
materials.) Teaching materials which are selected or created to fit into the instructional plan
should be current, correct, comprehensive, and well-designed or well-selected from available
options. The writing and diagrams in handouts must be readable, and writing on the board,
flipchart, or overhead transparencies must be easily readable from the back of the classroom.
Materials should, where possible, provide or include references, applications and enrichment
suggestions as well as basic instructional assistance (unless this is covered in the text or other
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22. materials); where possible they should incorporate a variety of instructional and doctrinal
approaches, for the benefit of students who respond better to an approach other than the
teacher’s normal approach; alternative viewpoints should be presented fairly, so that students
can seriously consider the range of views; and there should be materials to supplement
presentations by visitors, trips, relevant current events, etc. (The requisite knowledge under
this heading includes any special procedures for designing lessons or materials for groups
with special educational needs.)
(iii) Use of available resources
(a) Local
Appropriate use of school and local material, places, and people resources, e.g., library, craft
workshops, colleagues, nature preserves, mines, factories, farms, packing sheds, field trips,
museums, laboratories. This will frequently involve care with checking out, handling,
inventorying, returning, and maintaining school materials. (Note that this use is different from
the use of local resources listed under Knowledge of Subject Matter; here we are enriching the
curriculum, not the teacher’s or an individuals student’s knowledge.)
(b) Media
The teacher should be able to use those audio-visual and computer technologies for which
there are desirable resources available in the relevant teaching area; these might or might not
include projectors, computers, and software.
(c) Specialists
The preceding efforts should be supplemented when appropriate by obtaining assistance from
specialist personnel e.g. curriculum specialists, audio-visual and methods specialists,
librarians, computerists, school psychologists.
NOTE: There is no absolute need to use media, specialists, or any external resources in order to
do good teaching—that is, one cannot conclude from non-use to incompetence in the teacher.
But there will be occasions when failure to use them is culpable, if they are available.
Moreover, since they may become available even if not now available, and might significantly
improve teaching this particular subject to these particular students—at a cost which is
manageable and significantly less than the benefits—the professional should be able to or
should be learning to use them.
(iv) Evaluation of courses, materials, teaching and curriculum
The teacher (in and out of class) has to be able to employ discussion, individual interviews,
observations, questionnaires and testing, to systematically gather and record data for later
analysis that will produce: (a) needs and ability assessments with respect to content, level,
approach and pacing; (b) information about the success of curriculum options and materials;
and (c) of instruction. (These goals do not require individual test results, which are covered in
the next section.) The construction of valid rating forms for feedback by students on
curriculum, teaching, and materials/activities should be well understood. Systematic and
objective evaluations of available materials and approaches, at least sometimes involving other
judges, should be used as the basis for selection and improvement of courses. Note that
student or at least class testing is normally required for several purposes: for management of
progress, for planning a course, and for evaluating it, as here—as well as for the task of
assessment, a service to the student and parents/advisers rather than the teacher, as covered
in the next section.
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A. Knowledge about student assessment
(The terms “assessment” and “testing” are here construed in the widest sense, to involve any
systematic and objective process that leads to either evaluative classification (e.g., identification
of learning disability) and determination of the merit of student work. Assessment may involve the
use of structured and recorded observation, conversation, project or portfolio analysis, as well
as paper and pencil, computerized, or verbal testing or questioning. Teachers should
understand that assessment is essential in order to: (i) determine the learning needs of each
student; (ii) determine the success of particular materials, course plans, and teaching methods;
(iii) assist students and their advisers and counselors—as well as administrators and
employers—to make necessary decisions, including educational, career, and employment
decisions; (iv) assist in resource allocations by the school; and (v) support personnel decisions
by teachers and administrators. Testing is also (vi) a strong and not improper motivator for
many students if presented in an appropriate way. Hence it is extremely inappropriate for the
teacher to treat testing as if it is some bureaucratic imposition on the process of teaching—it is
an essential part of professional teaching. It has independent status in this list because of its
importance, the need to recognize its importance, its complexity, and the special methods
required to assess its competent use.
The teacher must be familiar with the costs and benefits of testing in general (to teachers,
students, and others) and be able to evaluate particular types and examples of tests for quality,
utility, and cost in particular . This includes an understanding of the relative merits and
appropriate uses of multiple-choice, short- and long-answer essays, structured observation,
interview, embedded, and project tests. The teacher should be knowledgeable about various
modes of testing, such as: verbal vs. written, short vs. long tests, intervals between testing,
unannounced vs. pre-announced testing, anonymous vs. signed tests, supervised vs. takehome
tests, open vs. closed book (and/or closed notes) tests; and tests administered and scored with
or without the teacher knowing which student authored which work. The teacher should
understand the difference between: testing for summative, formative and diagnostic purposes;
testing for ranking, grouping, and grading; norm-referenced and criterion-referenced tests—
and it is desirable for teachers to understand the use of matrix-sampling and item analysis. If
multiple-choice tests are extensively used, it must be understood how to construct them so as
to measure and hence encourage higher-order cognitive skills. The teacher should understand:
the difference between global (holistic) and analytic scoring and the advantages/drawbacks of
each; the design, use and value of scoring keys (“rubrics”); the value of giving students two
grades, the second grade being for improvement (not for effort); the errors involved in (i) the
‘A for effort’ approach, (ii) the award of an ‘F for non-participation’, (iii) the ‘no higher than C
grades because this is the class for slow learners and we must maintain comparability’
approach, and (iv) the ‘let’s fire Adele Jones, she flunks 30% of her students, and that’s very
discouraging to them’ approach. The teacher should also know how to address the problems
to which these fallacious approaches are overreactions. He or she should, ideally, also know
typical sizes of test-retest and interjudge marking differences; the magnitude of test-anxiety
effects on student scores (up as well as down), the effect of teacher expectations, and of
reading difficulty; the value of students doing some peer-grading and explaining of grades to
peers, and of external testing; the differences between the information obtainable from
observed practice and from testing, and the value of information from standardized testing as
well as its limitations. All teachers must be able to identify serious learning disabilities and
psychological disorders at the point where referral is required.
duties of the teacher: scriven page 23 version date: Dec 8, 1994
24. NOTE. One of the problems with norm-referenced standardized tests is that they do not yield
a rating on competence, for example on functional literacy. Hence many states and schools,
like the nation as a whole, were startled by the discovery that half the population—in school or
out—is functionally illiterate (to some significant degree). But this is something competent
teachers would not have found surprising, because they would know that most state
assessment instruments are not informing teachers or schools about competence, and would
have arranged a test of functional literacy to inform themselves about the literacy of each
student in their classes.
B. Test construction/administration skills
The teacher must use their knowledge of assessment to create or select, and properly
administer, suitable tests of such types as are useful for the several purposes already
mentioned, whether or not external authorities also do so. Tests should normally match the
content or skills covered in the teaching (including assigned out-of-class work), and in the
required curriculum, at the appropriate difficulty level. In special circumstances, tests may be
designed to match post-school situations rather than course content. Tests should not be
confined to factual knowledge since there are important skills and attitudes related to every
curriculum as well as important cross-curriculum skills and attitudes that should be taught.
Test questions should normally: be unambiguous; not be overcued; have one and only one
correct answer when only one answer is allowed as correct; indicate the marks for or relative
importance of each question to the extent possible; relate to useful continuing and future
competencies as far as possible; constitute challenging and interesting tasks wherever possible;
allow the student to display creativity, understanding and the capacity to synthesize and
evaluate—where possible and appropriate; be specific enough to provide evidence to guide
instructional activities, counseling, and modification of class materials where that is possible.
Administration of tests should follow standard practice or the guidelines provided when the
tests are externally required or designed; and follow all relevant ethical and professional
C. Grading/ranking/scoring practices
(i) Process
To the extent possible, ‘marking’ (the term used here to cover all grading, ranking, classifying,
scoring, or reporting on performance verbally or in narrative form) must be done so as to
avoid bias, especially on essay-type questions, e.g., by: using numbers to identify the papers;
marking question by question, rather than paper by paper; changing the order in which papers
are marked from question to question; re-marking early questions to pick up any drift of
standards; using and improving a scoring key; getting some externality into the process from
time to time (e.g., by bartering marking effort with other teachers). (The reasons for each of
these procedures should be understood.) Assessment must be treated as part of the teaching/-
learning process; hence graded papers should be returned with explanations of the grade and
the chance to appeal, even for final examinations.
(ii) Output
The marks that are awarded—or the narrative report card—must pass the usual tests for
consistency (equal grades for equal quality/quantity of work); appropriateness (e.g., no Bs or
As (or gold stars or highly laudatory comments)—for work that is merely satisfactory for
students at that level, no Fs for work that is around the satisfactory level); clarity (e.g.,
avoidance of long verbal descriptions as substitutes for grades—although they are often
helpful as supplements); and helpfulness (e.g., by using standards that relate to the needs of
duties of the teacher: scriven page 24 version date: Dec 8, 1994
25. the students and by evaluating parts or aspects of work as well as the whole performance
when the work is to be returned to the student).
D. Recording and reporting student achievement.
(i) Knowledge about recording and reporting achievement
The teacher should understand the range of alternative ways in which achievement can be
recorded and reported, and their advantages and disadvantages for different audiences and
different age and motivation groups. Examples include: by group or by individual; in person,
in writing, by phone, with and without parents present, with and without notification to
parents; with and without other students having access to all marks, etc.; reporting in terms of
grading, scoring, and ranking; by components (e.g. behavioral objectives), by dimensions (e.g.
originality, level of effort), or globally (holistically); with small or with large numbers of
components/dimensions; cumulatively or currently; by using neutral descriptions, evaluative
narratives, or evaluative labels (e.g., grades); for the record or off the record. The teacher may
need to assist recipients—e.g., students and parents—with interpretation of some of these ap-
proaches; doing so is part of knowing how to report achievement.
(ii) Recording and reporting practice
(a) Reporting to the student
The teacher must inform each student as to the quality of their in-class performance (where
appropriate), as well as to the quality of their performance on each test or assignment. This
may be done in class or, if more appropriate, in writing or in personal discussion. The
assessment must be unambiguous and accurate, and helpful about directions for improvement
wherever possible; a record of it should usually be kept, and in some cases it should be signed
off as read and understood by the student. The report may or may not include saying how
their performance compares to the range of peer responses; there should be clear reasons for
the choice. Feedback to the class on test results will often need to include giving the correct
answers, explaining the grading/marking standards (and the individual grades when
necessary) giving comments on common errors, perhaps distributing examples of (possibly
hypothetical) good and bad answers with appropriate comments, perhaps having the students
redo some of the questions; and discussing issues of the significance of the results in external
contexts (e.g., for team participation, college or job entry).
(b) Reporting to the administration
In the typical school context, the teacher must record assessment results so as to be able to
provide the administration with information about student performance on a regular and
timely basis as required, and to provide an audit trail if challenged for discharge of duties; this
includes the identification of problem behavior, deficient effort, and deficient achievement. It
should also include suggested explanations of deficiencies, where these are within the
teacher’s competence. These records, while in the teacher’s hands, must be secure from
inappropriate access by others.
(c) Reporting to parents, other teachers, and appropriate authorities.
The teacher communicates information about the progress of individual students to those with
a right or need to know, and only to them. This may include other teachers, if their knowing
will assist and will not harm the student, and prospective employers or advanced educational
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26. A. Professional ethics
Knowledge about—and performance in accordance with—the ethical standards appropriate to
the profession. Examples include: respecting confidentially of student and personnel records;
avoiding favoritism or harassment (sexual or otherwise) of particular students—as well
avoiding as the appearance of favoritism or harassment; not presenting oneself as representing
the school’s viewpoint unless specifically empowered to do so; ensuring that cheating does not
occur and is punished and reported when it does; avoiding all versions of ‘teaching to the test’
and other test invalidation such as requesting that less able students stay home on test days, or
‘aligning’ the curriculum to match a particular test; assisting with activities such as the
development and enforcement of professional ethical standards. Includes understanding that
the obligation to follow orders and regulations must be given substantial weight by the
teacher, regardless of agreement with them, although ‘following orders’ does not constitute an
excuse for unprofessional or unethical conduct.
NOTE. It is often said that there is a ‘duty to respect the views of other teachers’ (and
administrators). If this is shorthand for respecting the right of others to express their views, it is
correct; but it is often interpreted as implying an obligation to treat the views themselves with
respect. Since some of those views are clearly racist or sexist or otherwise unprofessional, they
deserve no respect, and the only example that is set by ‘treating them with respect’ is one of
moral irresponsibility.
B. Professional attitude
The teacher must set a high value on the well-being of each student and students in general,
and on successful, sustained, and valuable learning by each and all of them—and by the
teacher; must be able to react to valid criticism constructively rather than defensively; should
solicit evaluation of various aspects of job performance from time to time, including student
evaluations where possible; should integrate these into an overall evaluation of his or her own
overall performance and role in the school and community context (especially as that role
changes, perhaps in the direction of greater management responsibility); must be helpful to
parents, peers, community, and administration with respect to legitimate requests and co-
operative projects; must be helpful to teacher aides; must deal with peers in a courteous
fashion as far as possible; should try to provide an appropriate role-model for peers and
trainees as well as students; must not only avoid prejudices related to race, religion, age,
gender, (legal) political affiliation, etc. but take positive steps to counteract such prejudices
where feasible; must be punctual and otherwise conscientious in performance of duties
including attendance at scheduled meetings; must treat—and encourage others to treat—
school property with care (as well as reporting facility or support deficiencies); should be com-
passionate as well as just and business-like in dealing with students; should minimize any
penalties for students arising from collective or personal disputes amongst the staff; should be
flexible in dealing with the inevitable changes in school organization and policies, curriculum
content, and pedagogy that will occur during their career.
NOTE 1. Being noticeably ‘under the influence’ of drugs such as alcohol while on duty is
evidence of serious misconduct since it adversely affects the capacity to discharge primary
duties. It may also affect respect for the individual teacher and the staff in general, with
consequent long-term costs in student learning, school morale, and support from the
community. But being ‘under the influence’ in a bar on Saturday night is part of the right to
enjoy oneself in one’s own way, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others. A small
rural community may find this distasteful, and behavior like this may have bad effects on
community support; but such communities may put certain political views in the same
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