President Obama's Race to the Top competitive grant program instigated a wave of teacher evaluation reform. Teachers across the nation are being assessed based on student learning outcomes in combination with observations of performance and several other factors potentially including professional responsibility and the perceptions of students and parents. In Connecticut, 45% of a teacher's evaluation is now based on student learning objectives (SLOs) (Connecticut Guidelines for Teacher Evaluation, 2012). As a result, teachers are being asked to make changes in the way they think about assessment, plan for instruction, collaborate with colleagues, and converse with administrators. Judicious use of classroom observations, student achievement data, and feedback from students is critical to improve educational outcomes (Marshall, 2012). A multi-faceted approach incorporating use of well-grounded evaluative tools within systems that recognize teacher collaboration serves to support greater student learning (Darling-Hammond et al., 2011).
This research study is informed by a comprehensive review of the literature related to school improvement and accountability, effective teaching, teacher evaluation models, and change theory. Additionally, the study is predicated on the notion that current evaluation reform will be fruitless without teacher input (Weiner & Lundy, 2013). Fourteen elementary classroom teachers in Connecticut revealed perceptions about the influence of value-added evaluation on their professional efficacy both before and after the implementation began. This study applied qualitative research with a phenomenological approach to explore the manner in which value-added teacher evaluation implementation affected teachers on a personal and professional level. The use of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews revealed four major themes: stress, accountability, communication, and fairness. The research uncovered a shift in focus from concerns about student achievement pre-implementation to concerns about the use of data for evaluation purposes and its effect on teachers once implementation was underway. Additionally, teachers demonstrated concern about equity in evaluation based on invalid or unreliable test data and the exclusion of external factors affecting test scores. Most teachers stated that close communication with principal and colleagues was central to their success with the new plans. These underlying themes indicate a need to reflect on the true intent of teacher evaluation systems and determine whether that intent is indeed being fulfilled.
|School:||American International College|
|School Location:||United States -- Massachusetts|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational evaluation, Educational leadership, Elementary education|
|Keywords:||Accountability, Collaboration, Effective teaching, Observations, Professional development, Teacher evaluation|
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