Teacher assessment in primary and secondary education, abandoned about 40 years ago by Greece’s first socialist government at the urging of teacher unions and never reintroduced since, despite several pieces of legislation attempting to do just that, will finally be implemented at the start of the new school year, in September.
Despite continued negative reactions by the unions and the left-wing opposition, Education Minister Niki Kerameus is determined to go ahead with the reform, which is just one of a wider package, including the expansion of choices in textbooks beyond a single one approved per subject by the ministry.
While it is true that a bad evaluation for a teacher will not lead to dismissal but merely to more remedial instruction, teacher participation in seminars designed to impart new skills and enhance existing ones will be obligatory, Kerameus told Kathimerini. Those who refuse to take part will not advance on the pay scale and may be deducted up to a month’s salary, she said. There will also be positive incentives, such as the accrual of points that can be used in the appointment of teachers to positions of responsibility.
Kerameus refutes the allegation that assessment will create a cumbersome bureaucracy, saying that the number of teachers in positions of responsibility will remain at around 15,000, which she finds reasonable for a system with over 1.4 million students.
She also defends the enhanced powers given to school principals to choose their main aides – their deputies and the school coordinators, by class and by subject, supposedly at the expense of the teachers’ association. “The principals do not choose their deputy but make recommendations. Principals should have a say on who their closest collaborator will be,” she says.
School principals themselves, appointed for a finite term, will be assessed twice, midterm and at the end of their term.
Kerameus was also asked about the introduction of a minimum grade for acceptance into universities through the country-wide exam system. The minimum grade is expected to result in 15,000 to 25,000 fewer university students than the about 78,000 accepted last year.
Kerameus says that many of the students who were admitted even after getting very low grades in the exams would never graduate.