We recently held three Know Your Rights: Faculty Appraisal Infosessions. While these were attended by over 100 members, we know that not everyone who wanted to, was able to attend. Here’s a review of what we covered and what we learned from the members who attended! This is an update of our original Know Your Rights: Appraisal post and review Clause 28 of the CCFA Local Agreement for more details!
Whew! This one is LOOOOOOONG, and the TL;DR is get in touch with us if you have specific questions about your appraisal cycle!
Know Your Rights: Faculty Appraisals
Clause 28 – Employee Appraisal in the Local Agreement
The appraisal process for CCFA members is covered in Clause 28 of the CCFA Local Agreement.
- Continuing Employees: Clause 28.02
- Probationary Employees: Clause 28.03
- Term Employees: Clause 28.04
What we learned from you was that a substantial number of faculty members have been over-appraised and just as many have been under-appraised. Faculty Members and Chairs are not responsible for initiating an appraisal for themselves or others. That is an administrative responsibility.
Article 6 – Job Security in the Common Agreement
6.1.3 Parameters for Employee Security and Regularization
- (ii) requirements that an employee receive a satisfactory evaluation prior to regularization. An employee will be deemed to have received a satisfactory evaluation if one has not been undertaken by the employer.
You can’t be denied a right related to appraisal just because the college didn’t conduct one when they were entitled to and you can’t be subjected to one outside of the contract parameters!
The employer is supposed to make sure that all faculty members know the methods and criteria for appraisals.
- The methods and criteria for appraisals are supposed to be fair and reasonable.
- The timing and frequency of appraisals are outlined in the collective agreement.
- No one may observe your classroom for the purposes of providing peer feedback without your and your students’ consent.
We’ve learned that some departmental practices don’t strictly follow the Collective Agreement and if you’re unsure about the process or criteria you’ve been appraised with (or has been proposed), get in touch with us! You aren’t being evaluated in each course you teach, you are being appraised on your overall performance and capabilities. If you plan to have a peer or Chair observe your teaching practice, you choose the day, time, and course. And to be clear, there’s no such thing as being appraised for “the first time you teach a course” for anyone, Term or Continuing. It might just so happen that when you are eligible to be appraised, you are teaching a course you haven’t ever taught before, but that’s not a reason in and of itself.
Timing of Appraisals
Please read all the appropriate parts of Clause 28 of the CCFA Local Agreement that details when you will be appraised or get in touch with us to review your own personal work & appraisal history. These represent the MAXIMUM number of appraisals allowed.
- Term Employees: Clause 28.04(b): During the first term contract, second or third term contract, and may have a fourth prior to the completion of a second year (or fourth term) of working at the college, then every three years
- Also note, that in 1.02(f) service [in the bargaining unit] accumulated as a Term Faculty Member counts towards the probationary period.
- Probationary Employees: First time within the first semester, next time within 8-10 months from the end of the probationary period, and a may have a third within 2 months of the end of the probationary period only if issues arose in the second.
- Service accumulated in the bargaining unit as a Term Employee will shorten the probationary period and reduce when you are eligible to be appraised. Some Term Employees who regularized have already undergone all of the appraisals allowed.
- Continuing Employees: Every three years after the “probationary period” has ended, and a total of twice before a “letter on your file” should be sufficient.
- Whenever being asked to submit for an appraisal after having two successful formal appraisals on your file, members should inquire what reasons does the dean or director have for not providing you with a letter that states you continue to meet expectations.
- Chairs should note changes in our most recent Memorandum of Settlement around their appraisals. “An evaluation will be conducted at least once in first two (2) years of the term of office. If re-appointed, the Chair shall be evaluated at least once during each subsequent term. All Faculty Members in the department shall have the opportunity to contribute to these evaluations.”
If you are contacted by your School or Division’s administrative office about being appraised and consent to an appraisal, it must be completed within a reasonable timeframe. If they don’t complete it, the Union considers it successful by default. You do not have to agree to a protracted process and it is the College’s responsibility to complete Term Employees’ appraisals during their contract without violating your rights or cutting corners!
Components of Appraisals
There are ONLY three allowed employer components for faculty appraisals:
- Student feedback (if relevant)
- You must be provided with your student feedback BEFORE being required to submit your Self-evaluation!
- Student feedback about your performance can only be collected during the term you have consented to be appraised in, from the students present in the classroom during the class time you provide the employer to collect the information. You don’t have to allow ALL of your students to be surveyed. While there is an argument to be made for larger sample sizes usually being more advantageous, there are some good reasons for exclusion.
- The use of online student surveys distributed by email is currently prohibited by a settlement agreement between the Union and the College.
- Some programs collect other feedback on courses for accreditation and program review & renewal purposes, these should never include instructor evaluations and are prohibited from being used in your appraisal.
- Get in touch with us if you have been denied your student feedback or if surveys are being used inappropriately in your area.
- Departmental feedback (often the chair but doesn’t have to be)
- With the exception of students, all contributors to the Appraisal process must be identified to the Employee being evaluated. You are entitled to see and respond to all materials being included as part of your appraisal before you submit your Self-evaluation.
- Self-evaluation on overall service to the college which includes a description of relevant achievements and activities, such as the following: instructional practices, committee work, professional and community connections, professional development activities, curriculum development activities, conferences participation, and a record of publications.
- At the discretion of the Employee, other relevant components, including written submissions, from other sources internal or external to the College that attest to the Employee’s performance for the period under review may also be submitted (peer feedback from people you serve on committees with, colleagues or coworkers from other Unions, etc.)
- We recommend that, other than in response to your student feedback, your Self-evaluation only contain examples of how you are achieving required outcomes and meeting all of our employer’s expectations.
- Don’t assume the College is including all the great work you do as part of your Scheduled Development Projects, Professional Development, and service on College committees as part of your appraisal so make sure YOU do!
- Keep a portfolio of all the great student comments and feedback you receive between one appraisal and the next, otherwise, scanty student feedback collected through flawed surveys can dominate the appraisal process.
We all know just how flawed student surveys are and how they have the potential to be biased. Student surveys are supposed to be just a part of what our employer uses to form the basis for our overall performance as an employee. Unfortunately, we’ve seen an increase in our employer using appraisals to unfairly deny member’s rights, regularization, and create toxic environments or relationships. Right now at the College employee appraisals are NOT being used for continuous performance improvement, no matter what your exempt supervisors are telling you. Its sad, because many of our members can remember a time when they were.
Results of Appraisals
The Dean or Director’s job is to review the components of the appraisal, identify strengths and point out areas for improvement. ONLY the Dean or Director decides whether the appraisal is successful.
- In many departments, the Chair provides the Dean or Director with their feedback and recommendations for Term Employees. It is good practice for Chairs to review this feedback with the Term Employee prior to submitting it to the Dean or Director to ensure it is relevant and accurate.
- You must be given an opportunity to state in writing whether you agree/disagree with all or part of an appraisal and to add explanatory or qualifying statements.
- You do not have to provide your self-reflection until after you’ve had an opportunity to review your student feedback. Since student feedback is withheld until final grades are submitted, Term Employees’ final assessments should be scheduled earliest in the final exam period enabling them to receive their feedback, respond to it, and meet with the Chair while they are still under contract or bridged.
- You should never sign your appraisal or meet with your dean/director until AFTER you get your feedback. There is no collective agreement requirement that you meet with the Dean or Director to receive their decision about your appraisal, but it is common practice in many areas.
- Do not sign that you agree with your appraisal if you really don’t. This is important. If you have officially agreed with an appraisal, the Union cannot easily grieve it on your behalf.
The completed Appraisal shall be placed in the Employee’s Human Resources personnel file. Except with the Employee’s permission for further distribution, the Appraisal shall be available only to the Employee, the Employee’s Chair, the Employee’s Dean or Director, appropriate Human Resources personnel, the appropriate Vice President, and the President. In the case of a dispute or legal action, the Appraisal shall be available to the designated Union and management representatives and to a mediator, arbitration board, and the legal counsels of the Union and the Employer.
You are legally entitled to view your employee file in HR, just make an appointment and go see what is in there. You aren’t responsible to augment poor recordkeeping by the College. If they can’t locate your past appraisals, it isn’t an excuse to redo them.
We learned that Term Employees are often required to submit their Self-evaluation without having ever seen their student feedback. This can happen to continuing faculty, too! Get in touch with us if you are asked to sign off without receiving all of your feedback or if you are required to meet outside of your contracted time without being compensated.
Disagreeing and Disputing the Results of Appraisals
If you do disagree with your appraisal DON’T SIGN that you do and immediately contact the union for advice or representation.
- Should the Employee disagree with the Appraisal, discussions shall ensue between the Dean or Director and the Employee (with a Union representative present if the Employee so requests) in an effort to address the area(s) of disagreement.
- Should no agreement be reached, the Employee may seek to have the Appraisal altered by means of the Resolution of Disputes/Grievance Procedure (Article 21).
- An Appraisal shall not be changed after an Employee has provided a signed agreement to its contents without the agreement of the Employee.
- The Employee shall have the opportunity to seek advice from the Union before agreeing to any changes to a signed Appraisal.
Here’s the thing, we’ve fought (and won) grievances over an unsuccessful appraisal based on a as little as one single negative student comment, recently. Do not agree to meet with your Dean or Director without Union representation over a disagreement on the results of your Appraisal. They MUST allow us to be present and we want to be there!
Addressing identified areas for improvement
- Identified areas for improvement do not automatically result in an “unsuccessful” appraisal.
- After any Appraisal, should improvements be deemed necessary, the Employee, in consultation with the Dean or Director, will develop a plan, with appropriate timelines, for attaining the required skills and/or knowledge. The Employee may apply to the Professional Development Fund for assistance in this regard.
- This is the reason the Union recommends that you not supply any suggestions for improvement to your Dean or Director with your Self-evaluation. Should these be identified, you are able to determine how and what your improvement plan will be.
Appraisals deemed “unsuccessful” when the faculty member agrees and/or the College is able to prove or justify the assessment was reached fairly.
- Term Employees, this may prevent them from accessing Right of First Refusal or Regularization when applying immediately following the unsuccessful appraisal. However, it does not necessarily mean the member will never be offered work in the future. When applying for future work, it is important to be able to articulate how any past insufficiencies have been addressed and that the applicant meets all current qualifications.
- Probationary Employees, this may trigger an additional appraisal during the probationary period to establish if areas identified for improvement have improved. The Collective Agreement language refers to “not yet” being successful.
- Should the Appraisal that occurs with eight (8) to ten (10) months remaining in the probationary period indicate that the Employee has not yet demonstrated the skills and knowledge required for a continuing appointment, a third Appraisal will be carried out within two (2) months of the end of the probationary period.
- It is important to remember that the Employer shall not deny conversion to a continuing appointment as a result of not completing the Appraisals as specified in this clause. So if the time elapses, and they didn’t complete the extra appraisal, your probation still ends and you enter the Continuing Employee appraisal cycle.
- Continuing Employees, here’s where the term “normally” comes into play. Remember from the beginning of this page, that after two successful appraisals, you should normally be given a Dean’s letter for your File? If you’ve had an unsuccessful appraisal, you should reasonably expect that you will be asked to have another one in three years to establish if you have improved according to the plan you developed for yourself.
Out of Cycle Appraisals
The Union’s official position is that there is only one reason for an out of cycle appraisal as contemplated by Clause 28.02(b)(ii) – and that’s DISCIPLINE or DISMISSAL.
- Situations may arise in which the Dean or Director identifies a need to initiate an additional Appraisal. Such Appraisals may be carried out only when documented information, received and handled in accordance with due process, forms a reasonable basis for concern that elements of an Employee’s performance require immediate attention. The Employee will have an opportunity to consult with the Union and to respond to this concern before a decision is made to conduct the additional Appraisal. Should no agreement be reached, the Employee may seek to have the Appraisal altered by means of the Resolution of Disputes/Grievance Procedure (Article 21).
You should NEVER agree to an appraisal that is out of cycle. If you are unsure that you are due for an appraisal, you can simply tell your exempt supervisor that you’d like to contact the Union to review your work history before responding to their request that you be appraised.
If you have already consented to be appraised out of cycle, it is best to complete the process – and if successful, note if you should have any further appraisals and if so, when that might be. If an out of cycle appraisal that wasn’t conducted according to due process is deemed by the Dean or Director to be unsuccessful, you can be sure that your Union will grieve that on your behalf!
I hope this has been helpful! We run the Faculty Appraisal Infosession near the end of the Fall and Winter semesters so watch for our Outlook invites. Please, share what you know with your colleagues and above all, reach out when you have questions. We are here to help!
Send Us YOUR Content for the Confluence Blog!