An investigation into the implementation of the developmental appraisal system in a former KZNDEC high school in the Inanda district of the Kwazulu-Natal Department of Education and Culture.
One of the results of an increasing concern, in many countries, with the quality of schooling and its improvement, has been that considerable attention has been given, in the literature and in practice, to the management of individual and organisational performance. The matter of organisational performance is being addressed through various means of evaluating schools, and in South Africa, this is finding expression in the current Whole School Evaluation (WSE) project. On the other hand, concerns with individual performance typically are being addressed through various forms of systematic appraisal of teachers. In South Africa, the recently introduced variant of systematic appraisal is referred to as the "Developmental Appraisal System" (DAS). The DAS is claimed to focus entirely on developmental outcomes. According to Chetty et al (1993), prior to 1994, a variety of processes for evaluating teacher performance were evident, but most of these were substantially "bureaucratic and inspectorial" in nature, and were widely rejected by teachers. Consequently, the current approach to appraisal has been developed largely in reaction what were seen to be the limitations and shortcomings of earlier versions. Chetty et al (op.cit.) and Thurlow with Ramnarain (2001) have summarised and discussed the processes which led to the development of the DAS, which culminated in an agreement which was reached in the Education Labour Relations Council in 1998 (Resolution 4 of 1998). Subsequently the new DAS was gazetted and throughout 1999 and 2000 the process of its implementation was embarked upon in all schools. It was intended that a nation review of the implementation of DAS was due to have taken place by the end of 2002. However, for whatever reason, this has not happened and there is no substantial evidence about how successful, or otherwise, the implementation has been. Thurlow with Ramnarain (op. cit) have speculated, without empirical evidence, on the limitations of the implementation process, and the Association of Professional Educators of KwaZulu-Natal (APEK) undertook a limited review of the DAS among some of its members during 2001 . The literature on the assessment of individual performance indicates that, minimally, any evaluation of systematic appraisal system requires that attention should be given to its underlying purposes (or conceptualisation), the process of its implementation, and its ultimate impact. As far as underlying purposes are concerned, it is evident that several different "models" for appraisal exist in different parts of the world (and in the literature). Some of these models are "pure" models, while some are "mixed" by design. Some, while officially conceived as "pure", in fact may be shown to have unintended outcomes. In the present study, the DAS will be examined and compared with other models with a view to offering a considered critique of the "officially" declared underlying purposes of the system. The above provides the context for this study, which will focus on one school's experiences of implementing the DAS. No matter how sound are the intentions of the DAS, it can only be successful if it is effectively implemented at the school level, and so the reported experiences of those involved at this level are significant.